Post from September, 2003

i love imdb

Wednesday, 24. September 2003 23:52

Packing is so much fun! Woo. I’m pretty much ready for my trip up the northwest coast of Australia. We’re leaving early on Friday morning. I’m really excited. Although, I’m kind of nervous about the unknown too. It’ll be cool though.

I just figured I should update. I don’t think I have anything to say though. Ryan and I watched Apocalypse Now this afternoon. It wasn’t so great. Martin Sheen was in it and he was young, so that was neat. But that was about the only good thing. Harrison Ford had a small part too. I don’t know; it was too slow for me. This is the third Francis Ford Coppola movie that I’ve seen in the past few days (I’ve seen a few others in the past, some of which I’ve liked). I don’t know – I’m just not that impressed by his work. I just realised that he directed The Outsiders, the movie of the book that I mentioned a couple entries back. Weird. I can tell that movie is his style, now that I think about it.

It’s frustrating trying to watch movies in my flat. Ryan doesn’t have a VCR or DVD player in his, so we have to watch them over at my place. My flatmates are *always* around making lots of noise. And Dave tends to just sit down and join us. I feel so weird about that, because we’ve been watching some old/weird movies lately. I’m a little embarassed. He fell asleep today! lol. I guess it was too boring for him.

Alright, now I need to get to sleep!

Category:Australia, Diaryland | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

Aussie Entry 15

Tuesday, 23. September 2003 15:00

You know that feeling you get when you are so excited that your stomach feels like it’s twisting up, making you almost feel nervous?  Well, that’s how I’m feeling right about now.  In case you couldn’t figure it out, I’m about to head out to the bush to explore a good chunk of Western Australia.  Okay, perhaps that’s not exactly right since WA is about the size of half of the United States, but ten days should give me enough time to at least start to explore the place.  I’m really excited about the trip, but that’s actually what’s making me so nervous.  I mean, the thing is TEN days long!  We are going so far away from civilisation that for three or four consecutive days, none of us will be able to take a shower.  That means that I really have to learn how to pack for real.  I don’t really have the option of stopping by the nearest K-Mart to pick up the stuff I forgot.  Megan has been helping me make lists this whole week, so hopefully I won’t forget anything essential – like my camera.  Lordy, there’s going to be a whole lot of pictures that I’ll be posting from this trip!  Nothing like Cairns, though.  This time I’m heading out into the desert.  I’ll be exploring rock formations and gorges instead of rainforests and streams.  Speaking of gorges, though, that’s another thing that gets me a little worked up.  On my main Australia site, I put up a link for my whole itinerary, which includes external links to pictures (better than any I can take) and information about the sites we are going to.  Anyway, if you have a look at the pictures from Weano and Hancock Gorges on Day 4, you will see that there is a pretty good chance of slipping off those narrow ledges and tumbling down the cliff side.  Maybe I’m weird, but I am more nervous about my camera breaking from me falling rather than me splitting my leg open – at least I have insurance for that kinda stuff.  We were warned during our orientation about those gorges being hazardous, but now that I’m seeing pictures, well, we’ll see what happens.  But I’m a man!  I can take it!  So, yeah, that all happens next week, and I’ll be sure to write in this journal how Megan and I went with it.

Between the packing and classes this week, I had a chance to do a couple other things – primarily watch movies.  I tell you, our library’s video collection is quite wonderful.  As I mentioned in an earlier entry, I showed off some of my favourite movies to Megan.  This week, I was able to check out some other movies that I really wanted to see but never have.  Thus, on Sunday, Megan and I took out a loan for four movies: Schindler’s List, The Godfather, Wall Street, and Apocalypse Now.  Hmm, that combined with The Conversation from last week makes us seem like Francis Ford Coppola fans.  It also makes us seem obsessed with power and corruption.  Anyway, I hadn’t seen List in a long time, and Megan never did, so it was nice to revisit that movie, if “nice” is the right word.  As for the others, I had never seen them before, but they were all rated very highly by critics and the like.  Okay, I like classic films.  Citizen Kane is one of my all-time favourites.  However, I really don’t get what is so great about The Godfather.  There are so many better movies out there that deal with the mob.  Take Goodfellas, for instance.  I thought that was a pretty good movie.  Godfather, however, just didn’t work for me.  It was very slow-moving and I never really got the chance to relate to any of the characters.  The same goes for Apocalypse Now.  I can definitely see how people would have raved about the movie during and soon after the Vietnam War, but again, I think there are better movies out there.  It was pretty cool to see such a young Martin Sheen, and the movie wasn’t horrible, but it’s not really one that I would choose to watch again.  And Wall Street was probably the best of the bunch – aside from Schindler’s List.  I guess you can say that I don’t like Francis Ford Coppola that much anymore, but I still really enjoyed The Conversation.  Good flick.

There really wasn’t much else to do this week.  Since our two-week break is coming up, there wasn’t any work to do for class, and it was raining all week, which meant that we couldn’t head out and about.  Instead, we just joined our flatmates to watch the most popular shows on television – Australian Idol and The Simpsons.  Back home, if I got myself addicted to American Idol, then everyone would laugh and jeer.  I thought it was pretty ridiculous, anyway.  Here, though, since there are only about three or four stations to pick from, everyone ends up seeing the same shows.  In other words, yes, I’ve become “addicted” to the show.  I say that only half-serious because I don’t really care if I miss out on a show or two.  I can always check up on the web site (http://au.australianidol.yahoo.com/) to see what’s been going on with Rob and Cosima.  In other TV show news (this is sad, isn’t it?), Megan and I got to check out the Emmy Awards on Monday night.  It always takes a while for shows to air here.  Every show, from Friends to The Simpsons is a season behind.  Plus, other “big” shows take days, even weeks to air here.  The MTV Music Video Awards with that infamous Madonna and Britney Spears kiss doesn’t air until this coming Sunday.  What a shame I’ll be on holiday, right?  So, anyway, we got to experience what its like to see the Emmys in Australia.  It was pretty cool, actually because during the pre-show celebrations, Channel Ten Australia interviewed a bunch of the celebrities, who almost always looked into the camera saying, “G’Day, Mate!”  I mean, even people like Robin Williams was holding up an Aussie flag and talking in an accent throughout his on-the-spot interview.  It was really neat – seriously.

So, is there anything I can mention about this week that doesn’t involve the North West Trip or television?  Probably not, so I’ll just say a few more words about the upcoming trip.  I’ve been trying to find a good bag to bring along all my stuff for the trip.  They specifically asked us to bring “no suitcases,” so I didn’t have much of a choice but to find a duffle bag.  I bought a medium-sized one at K-Mart a while back, but I didn’t think I could fit everything, so I figured I would just return it and get a large.  Now, I’m not sure if this applies to all stores here, but you can return anything to K-Mart at any time, in virtually any condition, and get cash for it.  When Megan had to return something, she saw someone returning a used skateboard that was already scratched up.  No problem with that.  Most people don’t even bring along the original packing material, so a lot of items in the store are hand-marked with SKU codes.  Nonetheless, I returned my medium bag and got cash for it (even though I bought it on credit).  Since every large duffle bag was obviously a return (other than the display models), I just picked one that was labelled “large.”  Well, after I get home I realise that’s it’s just another medium.  To make a long story short, I go out again and buy another hand-written large bag, which also ends up being a medium.  Of course, I don’t figure this out until I’m back home.  So, this morning, I was stuck with two medium-sized bags, with no other larges to pick from, other than the dirty display.  I tried to pack up the medium and was just able to squeeze in everything that I needed, so I figured I would keep that.  I still needed to go back to K-Mart to get my money back, though, since I paid extra for a large that was really a medium.  Right.  If you were able to follow that whole story, goodonya, but if not, just forget it.  I’m just filling up lines.

To wrap up this entry, I thought I’d mention that I got my copy of the third season of The Simpson’s from Amazon.com today.  Just in time for me to go on holidays, eh?  At least I’ll have some entertainment when I run out of work and things to do.  Speaking of things to do, I need to finish packing!  I leave tomorrow morning!  Yikes!  At least I get to miss classes.  Hooray!  There’s a school-initiated activity that requires you to miss class to have fun!  Have a great week, everyone.  Cheers!

Category:Australia | Comment (0) | Author: Ryan

PB&J Otter

Tuesday, 23. September 2003 12:22

Have you read The Outsiders by SE Hinton? If not, you should. It’s one of my very favourite books.

You know the part where Ponyboy and Johnny are hiding out in the old church? Well, they eat lots and lots of bologna.

Bologna, what a funny word. Heh.

They eat so much that they get really sick of it. When Dally comes to visit and takes them for some fast food, Ponyboy keeps thinking that it tastes like bologna.

Well, I think that’s going to happen to me and peanut butter.

Category:Australia, Diaryland | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

stop the rain

Monday, 22. September 2003 15:32

Today is extremely rainy and quite cold. The rain here is different than back in the States (at least where I’m from), because it usually comes in short, heavy spurts. Back home, it will rain constantly for [sometimes] days at a time. I like how the rain is so short here, because it usually means that the rest of the day will be sunny and nice. However, today is just rain, rain, rain. It gets heavier and lighter, and sometimes stops, but it’s just very icky outside. And of course, I always get caught in the heaviest rains.

I just got done with classes and even though it’s only 3:30 in the afternoon, I put my pajamas on. My clothes were absolutely soaked and I wanted to get all cozy. So here I am. All ready for bed.

Ryan will be done with class in 2 hours, and then we’re planning on watching some more movies. Yesterday we watched The Godfather and Schindler’s List.

I really liked Schindler’s List. I’m interested in the Holocaust time period and I like to learn more about it. I should have seen this movies ages ago, but never got around to it. Although it was fairly long (over 3 hours), it didn’t *seem* that long. It held your attention quite well.

The Godfather was just under 3 hours, and it seemed *way* longer. Can someone explain why it’s rated 9 out of 10 on imdb.com? Or why everyone always says that it’s such a great movie? I really did not like it. It was incredibly slow, and I found it a little boring. I dunno. Maybe I was just too tired when I was watching it, but it was not enjoyable. I forced myself to watch the whole thing, just because I feel like I should see the “classics.” But augh, what a waste of time.

Tonight we have two more movies to watch, so I’ll have to let you know how they go. We just discovered that our library has a large selections of movies, so we’re opting out of homework to watch them. ;P

Homework sucks anyways. I didn’t do any this past weekend. I totally should have though, and I’m going to regret it later. I already sort of regret it. But am I doing any work now? Nope. I’m so lazy.

The other week, I was probably complaining in here about a religion paper that I had to write. Not the one that I gave the presentation for this past Friday, but the paper before that. Well, I got it back today. I’m very, very happy with my grade. The paper was SUCH a struggle to write. In Australian grading terms, I got a C+, but that’s equivalent to an American B+. So yay for me. I totally expected a much lower grade. I always tend to surprise myself when it comes to writing papers.

I think it’s just that writing is a huge battle for me. If it’s on a topic that I don’t enjoy, it takes me forever to get even a paragraph written. If it’s something that I’m interested in, it’s not SO bad.. but it’s still a bit difficult. I don’t have a good attention span when it comes to school work.

In four weeks, I have a 5000 word essay due for my Australian environmental history class. I really like the class and we can pick our own topic, so I’m hoping it’s not going to be too bad. I’ve sort of decided that I’m going to write about forests and logging. When reading some articles about that, it really struck me. I think it’d be a good topic. I just have to find time to start it. I should do it right now, actually. But I won’t. See, even though it’s not due for 4 weeks, I’m going to be on holiday for the next 2. Therefore, I don’t have as much time as it seems. But I’m lazy, so I won’t start it until after the holiday.

Hmm, I’m hungry. I think I’m gonna find some food to eat..

Category:Australia, Diaryland | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

Aussie Entry 14

Sunday, 21. September 2003 0:00

Is this for real?  Am I really updating my diary twice in the same week?  This is crazy, man!  Or, if not crazy, at least it means that my workload has finally lessened a bit.  Anyway, I was sitting in my room today and there was a knock at my window – it was Megan.  Holy cow!  It was my girlfriend!  I quickly tried to close the pictures I had on my computer, but alas, it was too late.  She saw what I was doing.  You see, folks, over the last few days, my mind has been quite preoccupied with another girl.  I had so much work this month, and finally my load was lightened, so I spent a good deal of my time stalking this chick.  I’ve been downloading her pictures, and reading through her life history.  Call me a pimp or call me a tramp, but since Wednesday, all I’ve been able to think about is Isabel.  So, when Megan came over to my room and saw me checking out Isabel’s spinning vortex, you can understand why I was embarrassed.  Megan is such a nice girl, though.  She was very understanding of the whole situation, and I’m sure it will all turn out for the best.

Okay, I’m obviously talking about the hurricane that hit the east coast of the States a couple days ago.  As I alluded to in my last entry, I love storms, and I have been quite disappointed that I missed out on a hurricane that passed so near to my house!  Literally, though, since Wednesday, I’ve been reading through and looking at pictures from every possible news source, from the wonderful weather channel to Baltimore’s own local news stations, like WJZ 13.  It’s really been incredible, and although I wasn’t able to witness such an awesome storm, I’ve been able to live vicariously though all the media I’ve been able to download from the internet.  Plus, there are some awesome people out there who have sent me their own pictures and movies from the storm (and I hear there are more to come).  For example, Stan e-mailed me some great stuff he took with his digital camera, including a really cool 25-second video clip from when the storm hit its hardest over UMBC.  Sweet!  Did I ever mention how much I love wind and rain?  Whee!  Right, so I should probably talk a little about the other stuff I did during the week so that I don’t look like some loser hunched over the computer for 20 hours a day.  ::Cough::

Let’s see, on Wednesday I went to forensic science and sat through a student lecture on toxicology.  It was actually pretty interesting to hear all about the different kinds of drugs out there and how they affect the body.  Afterwards, I headed off to Coles to pick up some milk and orange juice, since I had just finished it up that morning.  I also got some replacement bananas because the ones now are really scary.  The tops of them are still green, but the bottoms are almost black.  I’ve been feeding them to Megan because I think something is wrong with th— I mean, because I am a wonderful boyfriend who wants to share things with his girl.  Eventually, though, she said they were a bit soggy, so I figured it was time to throw them out.  Most of the rest of the day I spent getting information on the impending hurricane.  Eventually, Megan and I headed to the tavern to get our weekly fix of pizza, and for once we got there on time and it was nice and warm!

On Thursday, Megan had to spend pretty much the entire day working on a 1-hour presentation she was due to give in her religion class.  “Jesus the Liberator” was her topic.  I tried to help her out where I could, but I tell you, that stuff is so far over my head.  I think philosophers are either incredibly brilliant or they are extremely dumb and just ramble because her sources were a pain to read through.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with our own intelligence.  Anyway, she did her thing, and I did mine – tracking Isabel.  I was very pleased to see that a local news station in Baltimore (WJZ) occasionally put up streaming video of different segments of their news casts.  So, even though I am on the other side of the planet, I was still able to tune into Bob Turk’s weather forecasts!  How cool is that?  Plus, once Isabel started to make landfall, The Weather Channel would update streaming video segments of their reporters.  I was able to check out Bill Keneely in Ocean City, and (my favourite TWC meteorologist) Jeff Morrow in North Carolina.  So, yeah, that made my day.

After Megan couldn’t take much more of Jesus, we headed off to Fremantle.  She needed to pick up some books to read during the long journeys of our upcoming North West Trip, and we decided to stay for the sunset.  I brought along my camera and took some more pictures of the sunset.  This time, I fooled around with my shutter speed and aperture so the sun didn’t look like a nuclear blast.  I still am horrible at photographing sunsets, but at least I think they turned out better than before.  Then, we walked over to McDonalds to grab some stuff to eat.  I got another happy meal so I could get another Finding Nemo toy.  All the good ones were sold out so I ended up with some odd looking creature that looks like a cross between a jellyfish and an octopus.  When we finally got a bus back home, Megan headed off to do some more final preparations for her presentation and I did a little more stalking of Isabel.

On Friday, I sat through another toxicology lecture in forensic by another group of students.  This one was even better than the last because they actually seemed interested in what they were talking about rather than reading through an essay.  Although I intend to stay far away from the stuff, they did make hard drugs like cocaine seem rather enticing, saying that it makes you more alert and whatnot.  After that, I grabbed some breakfast at the Aroma Café.  I didn’t have time to make anything that morning because I stayed up too late watching Isabel beginning to make landfall.  I grabbed an apple cinnamon muffin and a cinnamon bun.  Holy mackerel!  They were so good!  The bun was interesting, though.  I’m so used to just pulling them apart bit by bit, but when I did, it split in half, revealing a buttered interior, like a roll.  Maybe that’s normal, but it was different for me, but delicious!  You know, I’m going to miss a lot of the food out here when I come home.  For example, there are these little chocolate cookies called Tim Tams, which are highly addicting and delicious!  Dude, these things are better than Girl Scout cookies!  MMmmm!  Anyway, I digress.
            After getting a bit of food in my system, I picked up my environmental issues report that I turned in the other week.  I ended up with a 65%!  How cool is that?  This is the thing that I only spent a few hours on in between my programming project.  According to UMBC, that counts as a mid-range “B”, which is fine by me since I only need to pass.  Plus, if I had gotten above a 70%, I would be forced into picking an entirely different topic for our next paper – this way, I can just “improve” on what I have.  Hooray!

Megan finished out her week with her religion presentation, which she said went pretty well.  Props to her because I don’t think I would have been able to handle a presentation for so long.  To wind down the week, we rented a couple movies from the library.  Did I ever tell you how impressive our video collection is at the library?  It’s no Blockbuster, but it has some truly great tapes in there.  Since Megan’s flat has a VCR, we were able to watch them there.  We checked out two of my favourite movies that Megan had never seen – The Conversation and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  I didn’t think she would care for the latter, but she seemed to enjoy it, nonetheless.  She liked The Conversation better, even though we had to watch it over the loud voices of her flatmates.

On Saturday, I made pancakes for Megan and me from the mix I told you about in my last update.  All of the sudden I realised that I can’t actually cook.  The things turned out to be very chewy and either burnt or not cooked enough.  It was really strange.  So much for the golden brown images on the front cover of the container.  After our “meal,” Megan and I picked up some supplies from Kardinya for our upcoming trip, and I spent the rest of the day checking out a few final media clips of Hurricane Isabel.  I also spoke to my parents to get the latest word on the storm from the home front.  Surprisingly, my house never lost power, and there was little to no damage done to any of our assets – including our beach house, which I was a bit concerned about.  As for the people we rent from, they didn’t get so lucky with about 2 feet of water in their newly-renovated cottage, but I suppose it could have been worse.  After all that, I was finally able to put to rest all of my fantasies about Isabel and continue on with my life – which brings me up to now.  Isn’t that neat how I was able to come full circle with this entry?  Well, I thought so, anyway.  Until next time, cheers!

Category:Australia | Comment (0) | Author: Ryan

nervousness

Friday, 19. September 2003 21:21

Well, Isabel (tropical storm, hurricane, tropical depression, blah) seemed to have done quite a bit of damage. It’s all so weird, because I’m watching it happen from Australia. Ryan’s really into the weather, and he’s pretty upset that he missed such a big storm. Looking at the after-effect pictures are really crazy. Baltimore, MD is very much flooded. It was a very bizarre storm in its pattern. It didn’t seem to hit anywhere that I would have been at anyways, so I didn’t miss out. But poor Ryan did.

Anyways, I just had to mention the weather so Ryan wouldn’t get mad at me. haha. :-P

Today. Today was my religion presentation. For those who didn’t hear my complaining, I had to give an hour presentation about how Jesus Christ is a liberator. My religion class sucks and I don’t understand anything. I was so freakin nervous about the presentation, too.

I had to sit in class for an hour before I gave my presentation. I thought I was going to die. It was not a fun experience, being so darn nervous! When it was time for me to do my thing, I about passed out. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. I think I handled myself normally, but my insides were churning.

I definitely knew that I wouldn’t be able to stand in front of the class. There were only 9 students, so I figured it would be alright if I sat at a desk in the front, instead of standing. My legs wouldn’t support me, and I figured I’d be more involved that way.

Usually, I talk really, really fast when giving presentions. I think that I did alright today though. I didn’t have that much prepared, so I knew I had to talk r.e.a.l.l.y. s.l.o.w. in order to use up all the time. I wouldn’t say that I talked slow, but it definitely wasn’t fast.

I finished half my presentation in the first 10 minutes, so I was freaking out. While I was talking, I wasn’t all that nervous. However, I had to ask the class questions to initiate discussion, and when other people were talking, I felt nervous again.

Fortunately, the second question that I asked took about 20 minutes for everyone to talk, so that was great. I’m so dumb though. I have problems listening to people. Even though I was at the front of the room, “leading” the discussion, I kept tuning people out! I couldn’t help it; my mind was wandering to really random things. It didn’t matter, because most of what people said was over my head anyways. But still, you would think I’d listen!

At the very end, I was getting really scared. I still had about 10 minutes left, and I didn’t have anything left to say. Luckily, I somehow thought of another question to ask people.. and that took long enough for me to decide to wrap it up and give a conclusion.

It was a pretty miserable time, but it could have been way worse. Nothing embarassing happened, and the teacher even said that I had good questions. The class laughed at(?) me a couple times, but I was too nervous to understand what they were saying. LOL. It wasn’t anything bad, just teasing.. I think. ;)

I’m just glad it’s over. I can breathe again.

Ryan and I decided to relax tonight by borrowing some movies from our library. We got The Conversation, a movie from 1974 with Gene Hackman, and also Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Yes, I’m deprived and I never saw Monty Python before.

I really liked The Conversation. It had some slow parts, but overall it was good. I figured out the basic ending before it happened, but that’s nothing new. Harrison Ford was in it when he was really young, so that was interesting.

The Monty Python and the Holy Grail was alright. I didn’t *love* it, but I enjoyed it. I hated the ending though. I didn’t really believe it was over! It was kind of cool though. I mean, how else would it have ended? Although, I think I’d be mad if I paid to see it in the theatre and that happened.

For some reason, I’m really exhausted. I stayed up too late last night and then kept having bad dreams about my presentation, so I guess it was a fairly restless night. Therefore, I’m going to get in bed very soon.

Category:Australia, Diaryland | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

where is home?

Thursday, 18. September 2003 21:09

This afternoon, Ryan and I went into Fremantle. I needed to get some new reading material, so we went to Elizabeth’s for some cheap, used books. I also decided to sell back the 5 that I had already read. Um, yeah.. I only got $8. The new release *really* thick book that I bought at Kmart for $20 was only worth $6. Rip off? Yes, but I wanted to get rid of it.

I am so addicted to Strawberry Fields smoothies at New Zealand Natural. Oh-my-gosh, what will I do without them when I go back home? I didn’t realize they had a store in Freo; I usually just go to the one at Garden City. It totally made my day to get a smoothie. Yummy.

Ryan and I were talking the other day, trying to determine if we miss anything from home. We’ve been gone for about two and a half months now, and feel pretty comfortable here. When I think about it, there aren’t that many material items that I miss from home. The only thing that I can think of is the flavoured, carbonated water that I get from Walmart. Since I don’t like the taste of regular water, that stuff is great for me.

I may not miss anything from home, but when I go back, I’m totally going to miss stuff from here. It’s so bizarre, but it’s true. I’m really starting to like certain products and places here, that aren’t at home! I mean, how am I going to live without Tim Tams? People who haven’t had them are totally missing out.

Last time I was in Australia (two years ago), I bought my family a small box of Daintree tea. My dad decided that he liked it so much, that he now orders it online and has huge boxes of it shipped to our house. My parents are big tea drinkers, and my dad just fell in love with that particular kind.

I can totally see myself doing that. I’d be spending so much money, shipping Australian products back home. That’d be crazy though. :-P

Dude, I’m even developing the taste for vegemite. At first, I thought it was just way too salty. However, once I had it a few more times, I started to enjoy it. I don’t eat toast very often, but when I do, I want some vegemite on it! I think I should bring a jar of that home, and feed it to all my friends and family — spread very thickly on bread.. hahaha.

Category:Australia, Diaryland | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

greasy stove

Tuesday, 16. September 2003 19:47

You know, I’m really getting tired of this endless cycle of paper writing. What’s up with it? Once I finish one, I have another to do!

Right now, I’m working on one for my religion class. My topic is Christ as a liberator. Other than that, I can write whatever I want. It makes things a little hard. I need structure, and most classes here don’t give any. There are SO many ways that I can go about writing this paper, so of course I can’t figure out what to write. If you ever want to feel stupid, come to this uni and take this class. :(

On a brighter note, my flat passed the inspection this morning with flying colors. We’ve never been 100% clean before, so that’s pretty cool. My job was cleaning the stove and oven. It was pretty icky. I survived though, and I guess I did a good job. :)

I skipped my only class of the day. It was my dumb internet computing lecture. I doubt I missed anything. I’ll just go through the powerpoint slides that should’ve been covered. I skipped because I wanted to sleep later. I feel guilty. It was worth it though. ;)

Category:Australia, Diaryland | Comment (0) | Author: Megan

Aussie Entry 13

Tuesday, 16. September 2003 18:30

Can you believe that it’s been almost a month since my last journal entry?  It’s incredible just how fast time is slipping away down here!  I mean, each Wednesday night, the campus tavern has $5 all-you-can-eat pizza nights.  It’s a pretty good deal and Megan and I go to it every time we can, but it seems like we go there every other day with how fast time passes.  The past couple weeks have been extremely busy with class work, too, which is why I haven’t really had a chance to update anything.  That all changes with this entry, though!  There is no way that I’m going to write anything quite as lengthy as my last update, even though twice as much time has passed.  I would end up going insane.  Nonetheless, for those who are interested, I’ll (as briefly as possible) fill you in on what’s been going on in my life since the beginning of the month.

On Monday, September 1, I had my usual forensic science class.  It was actually quite painful because we had to listen to a repeat presentation from a group of students that went a couple weeks back.  They did a pretty nasty job of the lecture – it was hard to follow, they talked too quiet, they went through slides too quickly, and they even gave incorrect information!  In fact, they did so bad that our wonderful professor decided to let them redeem themselves and present again.  Well, they didn’t change anything from their original presentation (less adding more pictures), so it was basically worthless.  Remember the scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where Ben Stein is giving the hilariously bad economics lecture?  It was sort of like that, only worse. 

Anyway, after sitting through that, I met up with Megan for lunch, and we happened to spy an Australian Red Cross truck.  We decided to see if we could give blood, but it turned out that you needed an appointment.  Since the truck was supposed to be there for the next couple weeks, it wasn’t a problem making an appointment.  While we were getting all that taken care of, I started to get the hiccups, which for some strange reason is extremely embarrassing for Megan.  Perhaps it’s because I keep my mouth open to see how loud I can get them, but I don’t know.  Nonetheless, she offered me money if I agreed to stop, which of course didn’t work.  Actually, she offered me money to keep going.  I know I’m about to go on a tangent, but stay with me.  When Megan and I were on our trip to Cairns, I started hiccupping.  Our tour guide, Drew, came up to me and held out her hand, which had a couple dollars in it.  She said, “I’ll give you two dollars if you hiccup for me again.”  Of course, being put on the spot like that, I was unable to get my diaphragm to go out of wack again, so I didn’t get any money.  In the case with Megan, she tried to do the same thing, but it didn’t work and I got .55 cents.  It must be because she’s too cheap.

After getting a bit of cash out of my lover, I headed off to cultural studies, which followed with the tutorial.  Now, I’ve never been much of a participator when it comes to class (big surprise, huh?).  Since tutorials are all about sharing ideas and knowledge, I’m usually the last one to give my input.  Knowing that’s the case, my teacher usually nominates me to say or do something when the room grows quiet.  On that Monday, we were talking about music and why people are drawn to dance to it.  She asked if there was anyone who didn’t know how to dance, and me, and most of the other guys raised our hands.  So, our teacher grabs my raised hand and pulls me out of my chair saying, “Oh, come on!  Everyone can dance!  Watch!  Dance with me!”  I was still trying to figure out what was going on when suddenly I ended up doing some tango with her.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for me forgetting to swallow before laughing at myself.  Inevitably, a nice stream of saliva shot out of my mouth while I was dancing with her, which landed square on her shoulder.  The good news was that she was not wearing a sleeveless shirt, so she didn’t notice.  The bad news was that she was not wearing a sleeveless shirt, so my bubbly dribble remained on her for a good ten minutes.  Now, it probably was not as noticeable as you are thinking it to be, but it was bad enough for me to turn red for a good while there.  I still don’t know if anyone noticed, but I tell you this story so that you always remember to swallow before laughing!

The next day, Tuesday, was a very long day indeed.  I stopped by the refectory for lunch halfway though my classes and decided to check out the Aroma Café.  It’s a little pricier than the other fast food places in there, but I figured that I might as well give it a go.  They had a sign posted that their “pasta combination” was on sale, so I decided to get some lasagne and salad.  Again, there is good news and bad news.  The good news is that the lasagne was delicious – some of the best I’ve ever had.  The bad news is that there are many types of salads, and I don’t know what I’m ordering by the name of them.  When I asked what they had, they gave me a laundry list of different kinds from garden to chef.  I wasn’t in the mood for plain old leaves, and I didn’t feel like cheeses and eggs, so I went for the Greek salad.  I really don’t like tomatoes at all.  I may put a slice on my hamburger, but that’s about it.  If you know what a Greek salad is, then you know that I am stupid fool.  That’s all.

After classes on Tuesday, I was picked up by Naomi to head over to Jess’ house to work on our forensic science presentation, which we had to give the next day.  There is something really cool about seeing other people’s houses.  I mean, being a pizza delivery guy must be awesome because you get to see what the insides of so many houses look like!  Okay, maybe that’s just me, but anyway, I was a little excited about seeing what the interior of an Australia house looked like.  Perhaps it’s a little superficial of me to judge all Aussie houses based on this one in Kardinya, but that’s what I ended up doing.  It was a nice little house, but the amount of space reserved for different things was the most interesting part.  She had a huge bathroom.  It was literally the size of my room here at Student Village, if not bigger.  However, the living room was significantly smaller than any other I had seen.  In fact, I think it was smaller than the bathroom!  Either way, there wasn’t much else that was different, other than there being fish tanks in almost every room of the house.  It was pretty cool.  I would have brought my camera, but that would have been a little over the top – even for me.  Once Louise showed up, we were able to get down to business, which primarily consisted of all of us individually writing out what we were going to say and making sure we weren’t repeating each other’s information.  A couple hours into doing that, Jess’ mom offered us all pasta dinner with garlic bread.  It was all very delicious, and quite a treat, since I wasn’t expecting dinner.  We kept working until we looked at the clock and realised, “Holy cow!  It’s after midnight!”  Louise left, and since I was depending on a ride from Naomi, I stayed a little later.  We hung out with Jess’ mom and brother for a good hour, both of which had all sorts of questions about the United States.  Her brother was actually really interested in completely random cities.  He would ask, “So what’s Detroit like?”  I would just say, “Umm, it’s… good?”  Then he would say, “They make lots of cars there, right?”  I still hesitated in saying, “Yeah, I think they do.”  It’s pretty pathetic that Australians know so much about the States (sometimes even more than me!), and I knew little to nothing about Australia.  I eventually left Jess’ house a little after one in the morning and stayed up late finishing a 4-page, single-spaced essay for Environmental Issues.

On Wednesday, we gave our group presentation on criminal profiling.  Overall, I think it went pretty well, despite the fact that I was going on about three hours of sleep.  I ended up getting an 85%, high distinction (HD), which equates to a mid-range “A” at UMBC.  Since all presentations are recorded, I’ve put together a short series of sound clips from the presentation for your listening enjoyment.  You can download it by clicking here!

Friday, September 5th was Megan’s 21st birthday!  Hooray!  I felt kind of bad for her since her birthday didn’t mean much of anything for her here.  I mean, your 21st birthday is a celebration of finally becoming an “adult,” which means that you can actually drink alcohol!  Since Australia’s drinking age is 18, it didn’t mean much of anything to the people here.  Nonetheless, we still had a good time.  Between classes I was able to run out to Coles and pick up a cake and candles, which we weren’t allowed to light.  Even still, she had trouble blowing them all out when I “surprised” her with it after her classes.  I think they were trick candles or something.  Afterwards, we headed out to Fremantle to get dinner and visit a prison.  Actually, Fremantle prison has been closed for the past few years and is now open to the public for touring.  We took the candlelight tour at night.  We were each given torches (flashlights), and walked all around the place, which was really awesome.  A few people popped out of different places to scare us, which was a little lame, but still fun.  The tour ended after we saw the gallows.  That was pretty creepy, actually.  Just knowing that we were standing in the same building that so many prisoners had been hung to death gave a bit of a shiver through our spines.  Since it was night, I didn’t bring my camera, but we might go back during the day sometime so I can grab a few pictures for you to have a look at.  After that, we headed off to Rosie O’Grady’s Pub (where we went our first week here), had a bit of piss, and did some dancing to a live band.  All in all, it was a really fun night.

The weekend of the 6th and 7th was Father’s Day weekend, and I seriously did nothing else except upload pictures to Webshots!  Our internet was ridiculously slow, but I figured that I had to upload my holiday pictures sooner or later.  After many, many aggravating hours, I finally finished them all.  So, if you haven’t seen them yet, have a look so that I know my work wasn’t in vain!

Although I was happy to finally unload almost 200 pictures onto Webshot’s server, I became a little distressed by the time Monday rolled around.  Just like back home, I put off a programming assignment until the last minute.  This time I had to create five separate web sites.  It sounds simple enough since I have done so many sites in the past (like this one).  However, if you ever check out my source code, you will see that I “cheat” by using Microsoft FrontPage, which throws in a whole bunch of unnecessary code.  This time, I had to adhere to extremely strict XHTML guidelines, which I was completely unfamiliar with.  I know some basic HTML, but not enough to create a web page from scratch, so I spent my entire Monday night into Tuesday morning working on the thing without a wink of sleep.  Thank goodness for Red Bull!  By morning, I was sick and tired of it, and I had Megan look over my code for me.  Thankfully, she actually enjoys HTML and fixed a whole bunch of little problems that I was having.  Hooray for Megan!

After finishing up my programming project before the 4:30pm deadline, I was able to be on time for my blood donation appointment with the Australian Red Cross.  The donation centre was actually just a big trailer that was parked behind our gym.  There were a couple tables set up outside the place, and some old man gave me some paperwork to fill out.  Most of the questions were just like back home – yes and no medical and travel questions.  It was kind of strange to admit that, yes, I had been out of the country to the United States in the past six months.  In fact, there was a chance that I wouldn’t be able to donate because of a disease in the States – West Nile.  I just found that to be humorous.  Another question was whether I had been to Cairns in the past month.  When I ticked “yes,” they told me that I could only donate my plasma because there was a strain of Yellow Fever and Malaria there recently.  Well, that made me a little nervous, and I’m sure glad that I didn’t know that before I headed out there!  Anyway, they went through the same basic procedure that we do in the states, except something was missing.  None of the nurses were wearing gloves!  I found that to be really strange since I’m so used to people being so obsessed about that back home.  Even when they pricked my finger to test for iron, they squeezed out my blood with bare fingers.  Other than that, things also seemed to be much more computerised.  The iron-testing machine and the blood-weighing machine (can you tell that I’m not a medical student?) were both regulated by a computer system.  It was really interesting to watch.  Afterward, they gave me tons of food to take back with me.  In fact, with all the biscuits I ate, I wasn’t even hungry for lunch anymore!  Once I got back to my room, I fell asleep straight away.  It had been a long day.

Just when I thought everything was becoming a little more settled in my life, I woke up on Wednesday realising that I had yet another presentation to give that Friday.  This time, it was for Environmental Issues.  This girl named Kai and I had to present on genetically modified foods in front of a very small class of about 7.  It’s actually harder to present in front of small groups rather than large groups because you can see each individual person judging you.  In fact, they literally were judging us!  Our grade is determined by comments and score recommendations made by our own peers, and students are much harsher graders than teachers.  Anyway, Kai and I met up in the library to go over our research, but since neither of us had any to show, we just decided to meet up again on Thursday with our presentations basically finalised.

On Thursday, September 11, what would have been my day off was filled with research on genetically altered foods.  I met up with Kai sometime in the afternoon, and since we both had our homework done this time around, we only had to spend about a half hour practising and making sure we knew what we were doing.  I got back to my room to check the news and see what was going on back home, and it was then that I thought, “Woah, it’s already that date again.”  The date happened to coincide with the day that Archbishop Barry James Hickey was due to make his annual celebration of mass at Murdoch.  Megan and I decided to be holy folks and check it out.  The mass wasn’t really a memorial service of 9-11, but there was a decent amount of mentioning about it.  There were surprisingly small amounts of people that showed up – maybe 30 at the most, but it was still a nice mass.  Megan and I got chosen yet again to bring up the gifts during the offertory, which was cool.  Otherwise, we just watched the archbishop, who looked a lot like Mr. Rogers, celebrate mass.  Afterwards, there was a little get-together sort of thing that involved tons of free dessert; so much so that it ended up accounting for my dinner.  While I went up to get seconds, the archbishop’s master of ceremonies, Doug Williams, came up to me saying that after he gets a drink, he’ll hit me up for a chat.  So, I found a chair next to Megan, and after a couple minutes the guy sat down with us.  We kept chatting for over a half hour, by which time most people had left.  He kept telling us stories about how he was mistaken for a priest and how many people resent that a layperson is the primary aide to the archbishop.  I, myself, found it a little strange, too, but the guy was extremely nice and friendly.  It was really cool because he was just like a regular guy, travelling around with one of the most influential religious folks in Australia.  Eventually he said that he would “be right back” to bring us his letterhead.  Well, after about ten minutes of Megan and me sitting alone in the worship centre, he came back with a couple handwritten letters to us.  How neat is that?  I was going to ask him for his autograph anyway, so I’m glad he gave it to us without asking.  I got a little lucky, though because I got two letters from him (one on paper, one on the back of a picture), and Megan only got one.  I must be super-blessed, huh?

I got back to my room and checked out msnbc.com to see more news from back home.  They were offering live streaming video from New York and Washington, so I decided to tune in for a little bit.  Back home, I’m sure people may have been becoming annoyed that there was nothing else on TV except 9-11-01 memorial coverage.  However, since Australian news covered little to nothing on that event, it was nice to sort of step back into the States, if even for a half hour via pixelated video images.

On September 12, Megan and I decided to check out the latest Australian movie release – Pirates of the Caribbean.  After checking out box office statistics back in the States, we saw that it was still one of the most-seen movies of the summer.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I like pirates; I really do (so if you are a pirate, please don’t kill me).  However, the movie didn’t seem like the kind of movie that I would enjoy.  Even still, most people who reviewed it loved it, so we headed off to Hoyt’s at Garden City for the third time this semester.  We stopped at McDonald’s on the way there so I could get a Finding Nemo happy meal.  I gave my leftover five cents to the Ronald McDonald house so I could take it off my taxable income.  Anyway, the Pirates movie was seriously a very great movie – it definitely exceeded my expectations.  So, if you don’t want to see American Wedding or Finding Nemo, be sure to check out Pirates of the Caribbean.  Megan and I stayed to the very end of the movie (after the credits) because I like to show respect to every last crew member.  We were nicely treated to a little extra scene at the end with the monkey.  The mall was closed when we left, so we had to walk around the entire exterior to get to the bus stop, but we survived.

The weekend of the 20th and 21st was spent finally relaxing, since most of my hard-core school work was finished with.  On Saturday, Megan and I watched a DVD copy of Empire Records that she ordered from Amazon.com to be delivered to Australia.  It was okay, but not my kind of movie.  Now, our library has an extensive collection of popular movies and DVD’s.  I don’t have a VCR in my flat, so I checked out a random DVD that I hadn’t seen to play on my computer (The Crow).  However, it was region-encoded so that it could only be played in Australia.  When I put it in my laptop, a message came up saying that I could change the region of my DVD player to view it, but I could only change it four more times after that.  I looked up what that meant online, and then I found out that DVD drives will only change regions five times and never again.  Since the counter is built into the firmware of the drive, it’s impossible to change that number without flashing it.  Since flashing firmware can be very dangerous to the future of the DVD drive, I decided against it.  On Sunday, Megan and I went to mass, as usual, and it happened to be a children’s mass.  It was interesting because a whole mob of children aged 7-12 gathered around the altar throughout most of the service.  It was cool, though.

That bring us to Monday, the 22nd.  Now, over the weekend, I had a conversation with Stan where we talked about food.  For the past couple weekends I have been actually making breakfast, other than just cereal and toast.  In fact, I’ve made Megan eggs and French toast twice.  Pretty nifty, huh?  Anyway, I told Stan that I haven’t seen any pancake mix here whatsoever.  He was shocked when I told him, which made me finally realise just how odd of a thing it was.  So, on Monday, I scoured our local grocery stores and finally came up with some pancake mix!  Now I’ll have something else to add to the menu for next weekend!  Hooray!

With that, I’ve pretty much brought you all up to today.  I’ve still been checking the news back home here and there, and I must say it has made me quite distressed.  I’m distressed because of this chick named Isabel.  If you know me, then you know that I have a certain… obsession with the weather.  I love it – especially really big storms.  A few years ago, Hurricane Floyd raced up the east coast creating a bit of devastation (including for us, the loss of our boat).  However, the storm itself was really cool, but during its most destructive point, I had to stand in front of a vacant cash register at BJ’s Wholesale Club, listening to the wind howl outside.  Boo!  This time, Hurricane Isabel looks to make a direct hit on Maryland, and I can’t even be there to witness it!  Oh, the humanity!  So, on Thursday night, when you all brace for what is probably one of the biggest storms of the century for Maryland, think of me, sitting out in cruddy spring sunshine, wishing that I were being blown around by 100+ mile per hour winds.  Take some pictures for me, okay?  That is, if you have read this far.  Anyway, have a great week!  I’ve finished another long entry!  And next time, I’ll try to update before October.

Category:Australia | Comment (0) | Author: Ryan

exhausting

Thursday, 11. September 2003 9:35

It’s been a busy week. I think the last time I wrote, I was saying that I finished my computer paper and was about to start my religion paper. That hasn’t happened yet.

What did happen was that on Tuesday night, I decided to spray mold. In one corner of my room, there was TONS of very black mold. It was slowly creeping up the side of my wall. It was really gross and was starting to bother me. We have this stuff called “Exit Mold” so I decided to try it out. And wow, that stuff is like a miracle worker. I sprayed it on, and almost immediately it would make the mold disappear. I just had to wipe it off and it was perfect. Although, closer to the floor, where the mold began, I had to spray it about 5 times for it to go away. But it was still pretty amazing.

However, the stuff is obviously made of bleach, because when I was finished, I couldn’t even breathe in my room. It was almost time for me to go to sleep, so I didn’t know what to do. I ended up going over to Ryan’s room, to do a little bit of homework. My plan was to wait a few hours and see if the smell went away, so that I could sleep. However, when I came back, it was just as bad. I ended up just crashing at Ryan’s.

Ryan had a html program due the next day though, and he was just starting it as I went to bed. So, I slept in his bed and he stayed up *all night* doing this project. He’s never done html before; he always cheats with FrontPage. Usually I can sleep with the light on and some noise, but I didn’t sleep very well at all. I woke up every few hours and kept having weird dreams. Finally, around 5:30am, I decided to get up for good. All night, I kept asking Ryan if he wanted my help (since I know html), and he kept refusing. Well, by morning, he was pretty desperate – and pretty tired. So, he laid down for a while and fell asleep, and I edited his code.

It really wasn’t bad, but sometime during the night, he had given in and used FrontPage. Ugh, have you ever noticed how messy FrontPage’s html code is? It took me quite a while to make it acceptable. I finished that *just* in time to go to my class at 9:30am.

After class, I came back to his room, to make sure that he was done with it. He submitted it and then I went home to take a shower and eat something. I didn’t have dinner the night before, or breakfast that morning. I was feeling pretty darn tired by that point, as was Ryan.

At noon, we both headed to the library. He was meeting a group partner there, and I had to start research for my religion paper. He only stayed for about 20 minutes, but I was there for 3 hours. When I came back to my room, I gave in to sleepiness and took a nap.

I asked Ryan to wake me up at 5:30pm, so we could get dinner. At 5:10pm, I was awakened to someone knocking on my door. I told Ryan it would be unlocked, but I assumed it was him anyways. I said “come in” without getting out of bed. I soon realized it wasn’t Ryan, so I put my glasses on and sat up. It was Linnet, one of my flatmates.

She asked to borrow my stapler, so I got up and took it out of my desk. She turned my light on, and started to fill out the cover sheet of her assignment, while resting it on my desk. We had about a 10 minute conversation. Awkward? I sure felt like it was. I was sitting in my bed, with my pajamas on! Linnet’s a really nice girl, but she just woke me up! She didn’t even apologize.

I tried to fall back asleep, but I couldn’t. Ryan and I headed to the Tavern soon after, for $5 all-you-can-eat pizza night. The Tavern is basically a bar on campus. They serve alcohol and have stuff like pool tables. It’s an alright place. It doesn’t seem like *that* many people go there, but there are always some groups hanging out. It’s a little more popular than the “hang out” place at my home university. Of course at home, they don’t have alcohol there, so that might be why no one goes. :P

I went to bed really early last night, and slept for 12 hours. I feel a lot better this morning. If I was at my home university right now, I’d be at the first SAVE meeting of the semester. I’m a little sad about that. It’s weird that all my SAVE friends are in the suite right now, catching up and having fun. I miss that aspect. I don’t miss all the stress of finding new members and trying to motivate people to volunteer for things.

And with that, I’m going to motivate myself to start my paper.

Category:Australia, Diaryland | Comment (0) | Author: Megan