August 31, 2002

In honor of the Salvador Dali exhibition opening in Sydney, the Herald has compiled a list of Sydney's surreal masterpieces. I've seen the weird talking dog statue, but that's pretty much it (other than Dance Dance Revolution, of course). I'd really like to go to the Grotta Capri Seafood Restaurant that was featured in Muriel's Wedding. Is there anything surreal in your city?
August 30, 2002

Friday Five:

1. What's your favorite piece of clothing that you currently own?
Hmmm. I'm not sure if it counts, but I love my panda shoes somethin' fierce.

2. What piece of clothing do you most want to acquire?
A month or two ago I would've said a knee-length suede coat with (fake) fur at the collar and cuffs. Every girl in Sydney was wearing them this winter, yet every one I tried on was about three sizes too small. I can't help it; I've got broad shoulders. So I gave up on that dream. Nowadays my clothing aspirations aren't centered on any one specific garment. I'm all about getting down to a size 14 so I can shop in the damn frilly girls' stores. I hate everything in their windows (it's all pastel gypsy crap right now), but I hate even more the fact that even if I wanted to wear it, I couldn't. So that's what I want.

3. What piece of clothing can you not bring yourself to get rid of? Why?
It's corny but... my high school letter jacket. I never wear it - in fact, I hardly ever wore it in high school, and it currently resides in my Mom's basement - but earning that thing was a dream come true. You all know I was the big brain in high school. That's all the more reason why I wanted to prove I could do something other than that. I wasn't the greatest tennis player ever, but dammit I earned those varsity letters. (Although, if some greater power offered me the choice to trade the jacket for the body I had back then, I'd do it in a heart beat.)

4. What piece of clothing do you look your best in?
I had to ask the Snook. He says it's my short black skirt and my long black calf boots. What a cheeky monkey.

5. What has been your biggest fashion accident?
Just check out any of my school pictures up until about 10th grade. Seriously. If it had stripes, or patches, or ribbons, or huge embroidered teddy bears, I probably wore it at some point. Of course, then I passed it on to my sister. :)

Winner, and still champion. Oh yeah! I scored a massive 15/15 on this spelling quiz. The 1991 Lagrange County Spelling Bee Champion still has it. *patting self on back* (Link courtesy of Max.)

Matt's been running down his list of "50 Great TV Themes" over at Scrubbles. It's worth a read if you haven't seen it yet. His descriptions are full of great trivia, like the fact that the Futurama theme song is based on "E.V.A." by Jean Jacques Perrey. I put a remix of that on "Lance in Space"! It all comes back to Lance.
August 29, 2002

My desktopAt last! I finally have Mac OS X 10.2 in my possession. During last weekend's fruitless trip to the Apple Store I noticed that the Apple seminar road show was swinging through Sydney this week. Today I dragged the Snook down to the Convention Centre in Darling Harbour to check it out. What a haul! I got tons of free stuff: brochures, stickers, a gigantic Jaguar poster. Even better, when I bought the OS they gave me a $50 rebate coupon and a free T-shirt! Now I don't feel so bad about missing out on the first day action. *grin* Anyway, it's all installed and I've been having some fun playing around with the changes. The new iChat is especially interesting. Pictured here is my current desktop if you wanna check it out. (Yeah, I'm lovin' the leopard skin.)

After the seminar we headed back out to the Harbour. It was such a beautiful day. I'd been in one of my blue "Why did we leave London?" funks but those never last long in the face of Sydney sunshine. Snookums caved to my whim and we took a ferry all the way around to Circular Quay, under the Bridge and near the Opera House. I never get tired of that. I couldn't resist taking a few pictures. Here's the Snook having a rest, a view of the city skyline, and a shot of the big scary entrance face at Luna Park. (Imagine going through that at night as a kid... "Can't sleep. Clown'll eat me!")

Snookums checks out the city     A very vertical skyline...     Scary face!

Oh. My. God. CBS is making a reality television show about hillbillies. They're going to transplant a real "rural, lower-middle class family" to a Beverly Hills mansion and watch the hilarity ensue. Isn't that funny? Or do you all find this as completely offensive as I do? Why is it okay to make fun of this segment of the population? "Imagine the episode where they have to interview maids," laughed CBS VP Ghen Maynard. Yeah, what a riot! Those idiots probably don't know anything about maids! They probably eat squirrels and stuff! I could die laughing. It's so fun to exploit poor people for amusement. Ooh, I've got another suggestion for CBS's fall lineup: "The Real Jeffersons". They could move a poor black family into a rich white apartment building and film the results. Comedy gold, my friends. Hey, I can't wait for the episode where they try to buy crack from the doorman! Won't that be funny? What, you mean it's not socially acceptable to make cracks about black families? Yet it somehow is when they're poor Appalachian farmers? Bite me, CBS.

(If you're confused, that was all meant to be sarcasm. I really am pissed about the show and I'm leaving feedback at right now.)
August 27, 2002

All right, Book Groupies. I think it's time to start the discussion! If you're not quite done yet, just wait until you finish to join in so we don't inadvertently spoil it for you. This isn't going to be a set length kinda thing; we'll just talk about it for as long as people want to talk about it.

The forum itself should be hopefully self-explanatory, but let me know if you have any problems. It's a threaded discussion (unlike my blog comments), so you won't have to hunt for replies to your posts. You don't have to login or anything, but your IP address will get logged so I can track/ban abusers if necessary. There's no HTML allowed, but you can use something called "PhorumCode" to format your messages. (Instructions are linked on the posting forms.) It's pretty simple.

In related good news, I finally got my copy of The Lovely Bones today! (It just got released here today, so any other Aussies should now be able to find it.) I think I'm going to try to set it aside for a few weeks, though. I read fast, and I finished Back When We Were Grownups way, way too early. I'd rather have the book be fresh in my mind. But if you're interested in joining in for September, be on the lookout for a copy!

Home Brew Report: As of yesterday, the beer (which was bottled two weeks ago) was ready to be consumed. Apparently it'll keep getting improving for the next couple of months, but of course we couldn't wait to try it out. Here's the Snook cracking open the first one, pouring it, and giving it a taste.

Opening the first bottle     Pouring the first glass     The first taste...

It was... okay. As the Snook put it, "It tastes like home brew." It was pretty fizzy, but they were big bubbles like you get in a Coke. It wasn't quite foamy enough. (He thinks to get that result, you have to use more grain and less sugar.) The taste was pretty yeasty and pronounced, and it hit the tongue almost like cider. It's definitely drinkable, but it's not going to win any awards or anything. Oh well, the next batch will be better!
August 26, 2002

Storm at Sea quilt topAs promised, here's a picture of the current state of my Storm at Sea quilt. I've got a lot more rows to attach, but you can get the design starting to take shape. I love the way it gives the impression of curves and waves, despite being made up of all rigid geometric pieces. I'm pretty proud of it. Man, quilting this thing is going to be a beeyotch though.

The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to Australia. Brilliant and hilarious and true. Australian beaches are simply the nicest and best in the entire world. Although anyone actually venturing into the sea will have to contend with sharks, stinging jellyfish, stonefish (a fish which sits on the bottom of the sea, pretends to be a rock, and has venomous barbs sticking out of its back that will kill you just from the pain) and surfboarders. However, watching a beach sunset is worth the risk of all of these. (Link courtesy of John.)

Max pointed me to an article in The New York Times that describes the frustration of the Atkins dieter having to give up his/her favorite foods. At the same time, though, this guy motivates me to continue. Yeah, it's hard turning down homemade blueberry pie, but the results are well worth it. If you're lucky, you can find substitutes that help reduce the cravings. Lately I'm all about the Cadbury Lite bar. It's made with artificial sweetener and the whole bar only has, like, 5 grams of carbs. (Snookums doesn't like the way it tastes, but I think that has more to do with it being closer to American-style milk chocolate than anything you get here.) A couple squares of that will kill any sugar craving. I've also found an Australian website called Picture of Health that sells low-carb products and provides a forum for dieters. It's nice to have a support group. I'm also so grateful that Rodd is doing this along with me. I'd have given up long ago without his encouragement.
August 25, 2002

Have you got Monica Syndrome? Are you a control freak? According to this quiz, I'm "normally in control", but when I lose it, I "lose it big-time". Yeah, I'd probably agree with that.

Tonight's gym torture session was Body Combat, an "empowering" workout that "combines powerhouse moves and stances developed from a range of self-defence disciplines including Karate, kickboxing, Tai Chi and Tae Kwondo, into a 'take no prisoners', adrenaline-pumping routine." Sounds exciting, right? I was pumped. I thought I was gonna be Jean-Claude Van Damme. Instead, as usual, I found myself huffing, puffing, and struggling just to stay on my feet. The combinations weren't that hard to master and the instructor was really nice, but the relentless pace was just too much. The punching and kicking were actually pretty cool; it was the constant bouncing and shuffling that killed me. Plus I made the mistake of looking in the mirror while I was jabbing away, which revealed the unhappy truth that though I was Jean-Claude in my head, in reality I was a red-faced chunker who punches like a girl. Needless to say, I will not be sending in my entry to the Ultimate Fighting Championships anytime soon.

Oh, and it didn't help that Satomi Tiger was in the class. (That's my nickname for her. Anybody get the reference?) She's this weird little Asian girl with no rhythm who just bops away in the corner the whole time. She's crazy, but she's also got ten times the energy I have. She's like a cartoon character. I hate Satomi Tiger.

New Poll: One thing we've been really missing on this Atkins diet is crunchiness. It's just hard to get a satisfying crunch that doesn't involved flour or potatoes or carbs at some point. The Snook has been researching though and has come up with a solution: pork rinds. Not only can we eat them as snacks, he says, but we can also crush them up and use them as breading. He's even found a recipe that uses them to make french toast. I have no idea how that works, and quite frankly, I don't want to know. I'm pretty much anti-pork-rind myself. The whole concept just reminds me of those dried pig ears you buy for dogs at the pet store. *shudder* Come on, back me up here.
August 24, 2002

Ugh. Today was the day of annoyance. I was all excited to get my copy of Mac OSX 10.2 but when I got to the store, they'd sold out. The Snook called all over Sydney and nobody has it. It'll be days before they get more in. Bugger. There's nothing worse than being all prepared to drop $220 on something and then being denied.

In slightly better (but still annoying) news, I've got another batch of "Lance in Space" CDs to send out to you, you, you, you (and you), and my sister. The annoying part is that the post office was randomly closed today so they won't go out til Monday. But you should have 'em in a week or so.

Friday Five:
Random answers today. These are deep questions and I haven't had any coffee.

1. What is your current occupation? Is this what you chose to be doing at this point in your life? Why or why not?
I'm doing web development contracting from home right now. I just sort of fell into this work during college, mostly because it made more money than anything else I might do. I do enjoy the work, but I hate the industry. I have ethical problems with the way "consultancy" works in practice, like charging the client extra for something frivolous that they should've been talked out of in the first place. It's hard. It can also be pretty soul-destroying to put all your effort into a pointless site that dies six months later. When a carpenter builds something or a teacher instructs somebody, the results of their work matter. Not much of what we do in this industry matters. I don't want to do this forever.

2. If time/talent/money were no object, what would your dream occupation be?
Being famous. I'd be a general all-purpose celebrity. I'd get paid to work on my websites, and I'd probably host some sort of TV show too. I might even be in some movies. It's ridiculous some of the people that are on TV these days. I'd be better than 90% of them. I am completely and utterly serious.

3. What did/do your parents do for a living? Has this had any influence on your career choices?
They both started out working in manufacturing but eventually wound up in white-collar desk jobs. My mom is a computer systems administrator (and webmaster), and my dad is the manager in charge of service at an RV dealership. I guess Mom's job had more influence on me, since she was always bringing home computers and that's how I got involved with them. At the same time, her tales of office bureaucracy and politics pretty much convinced me that this isn't what I want to do long-term.

4. Have you ever had to choose between having a career and having a family?
Nope. That's one of the advantages of being a completely self-absorbed Generation Xer. :)

5. In your opinion, what is the easiest job in the world? What is the hardest? Why?
What a random question. Shall I be all philosophical? The easiest is one that you love, the hardest is one that you have to force yourself to do. In my own case, the hardest is whatever job I currently have, and the easiest is whatever job I currently want.

The Slashdot Meetup last night was pretty fun. We had about 12 people show up, including another girl (for a total of three!). The venue, Establishment Bar, pretty much sucked though. It was this big posh city place full of suits and loud music. We waited there for about an hour and then headed around the corner for some Thai food. We finished the night off in one of the George Street video arcades watching Slashdotter Chris work his Dance Dance Revolution magic. It was amazing; he was playing in "double" mode where you dance across both platforms hitting all eight arrows. I would've given it a try, but my experience in Step class has soured me for rhythmic athletic enterprises for life. So instead Snookums and I raced on Harleys. Like I said, fun night.
August 22, 2002

I'm playing around with some new software called Kung Tunes. It uploads the details of whatever current mp3 is playing in iTunes to the site. You can see it down on the right under "listening".

Recent Pop Culture Ingestions:
I just finished reading Douglas Coupland's latest novel All Families Are Psychotic. (Hmm. It appears it hasn't come out in paperback in the US yet. Weird.) I haven't liked his last couple of books and this one sure didn't impress me at the start. It just struck me as too wacky and gimmicky, like Dave Barry's Big Trouble (which I hated). Things just get more and more farcical. Eventually I just gave in and accepted it, and that's when it got a lot more fun. By the end I was having a good time. It doesn't have the emotional weight of Microserfs, but it made me laugh a couple of times. I thought the whole "Princess Diana" bit was random, but I did like the resolution of it.

The Buffy Series 4 DVD has been out for ages in the UK, but we still haven't procured a copy. (The exchange rate makes UK stuff very expensive for us.) It's out here in Australia, but it's not in the cool little "book" format. Instead you have to buy two huge boxes, each with several separate DVDs (in separate cases) in them. That, of course, just wouldn't "go" with the rest of our collection. So we remain in limbo, not sure whether to shell out for the nice version or suck it up and go with the crap one. (Waiting ages for the US version to come out is out of the question.) I've been suffering Buffy withdrawal, though, so I caved and rented the first disc of Series 4 and last night we watched the first episode, "The Freshman". I wasn't happy. Why is it that Buffy gets totally shit upon in the first episode of every season? Willow was a jerk to her, Giles blew her off, and her Mom was less than sympathetic. I did like Xander's little "What would Buffy do?" speech, but hello? What happened to character continuity? Xander was an ass all of Season 3. Now suddenly he's not an ass anymore? And Willow went from nerdy computer girl to sexy trendy Wicca over the course of one summer? I don't buy it. I'm hoping that the entire episode was constructed to make you feel Buffy's sense of alienation and discombobulation, because that's how I felt. Otherwise it sucked and I really hope it gets better soon. (Also, the random phone call bothered me until I read that it was the first Angel crossover event. Great. Now I've gotta rent those too.)

After the Buffy disappointment, we watched Wim Wenders's film Wings of Desire. You may have seen its much crappier and cheesier "remake" City of Angels. Wenders's version is much better, but it's also pretty challenging. Not a lot happens. Parts are in monochrome and parts in color. Dialogue is in German, English, and French, so there are a lot of subtitles. There are random appearances by Peter Falk and Nick Cave. To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about it. Ebert makes some good points in his review, and while I can appreciate it artistically, it's not the kind of thing I really enjoy myself. At any rate, it's worth seeing just to realize how completely crap the Nicholas Cage/Meg Ryan version is.

Snookums's Zen GardenSnookums and the Art of Zen
I don't think I mentioned it on the site, but I gave the Snook a "zen garden" for his birthday last month. It's this little wooden box filled with sand and smooth polished rocks, and it comes with a tiny rake so you can smooth it out. He likes it a lot. It's set up in our dining room and every week or so he redesigns it. It helps him de-stress. Since I figure some of you could use de-stressing too, I've decided to share his designs with you. Next time you're upset or frustrated, just stare at the zen garden for a while. It's the next best thing to being a Buddhist!

Health Report: I am back in action, friends. The tummy bug seems to have fled and I'm feeling a lot better (though I already miss its pseudo-bulimic weight loss side effects). I even ventured back to the gym today for another round of Body Pump. Overall I've lost just shy of 20 pounds since starting Atkins six weeks ago. Isn't that insane? I don't feel like I've lost 20 pounds. I don't think I look that dramatically different. I have noticed little things, like my jeans being looser and fitted blouses looking better. I guess since I've been putting on muscle it's not so much getting smaller as getting denser. Anyway, onwards and upwards... and thanks for all the kind words over the weekend.

As each day brings a fresh assault on our personal liberties (courtesy of the "War on Terror"), I know a lot of folks are worried about the erosion of privacy and the creation of a "Big Brother" state. I'm not. It's already here. Today I received my summer copy of Notre Dame Magazine in the mail. Only problem is, I never gave them our new address. In fact, I'm pretty sure I never even told them I was moving to Australia. Sure, it took 'em eight months, but those dogged Catholics eventually tracked me down. I can't believe it. (The things that school will do for an alumni donation!) So don't bother getting worked up over national ID cards or Ashcroft's TIPS army of informers. Big Brother is already here and he's evidently in league with the Pope.

For some reason I found this experiment really hilarious: scientists at Cambridge University injected mice with speed and made them listen to The Prodigy. Of course, several of them died. Don't get me wrong; I'm not pro-animal cruelty. That part is sad. It just seems like such a random experiment. What, did they put on a strobe light and give the mice miniature glowsticks too? And how the heck does this relate to Huntingdon's disease? Weirdness.
August 19, 2002

Good grief. It never fails; whenever I find tons of stuff I want to post, my site goes down. I have no idea what's going on. I've been flaming my host every couple of hours. Normally they're great, but for some reason the machine that w-g is on has just gone completely flaky in the last month. Do me a favor. If you ever notice that the site is down, could you drop me an e-mail? I'd like to be able to tell them how often it's happening.

How's everybody doing with the book? Did those of you who'd ordered it finally get it? I'm thinking we could start the discussion properly in a week or so. Also, keep in mind that we'll be doing The Lovely Bones next. I've had a request in for it at my local bookstore forever, but no luck yet. If you haven't gotten a copy yet, start looking!

Max found a great article about the rise and fall of the Backstreet Boys. Confession: I own their "Millennium" album. Come on, "I Want It That Way" is seriously one of the best pop songs ever. It's not high art or anything, but I think there's merit in the fact that it embodies the genre so perfectly. It's catchy, it's disposable, it's fun to sing. And Tara D does a wicked Nick Carter imitation on his solo.

When my mom's family moved to America from Korea, my mom and her siblings were automatically U.S. citizens by virtue of their American father. My grandma, on the other hand, had to be naturalized. She had to learn all about the government and our important documents and even take a test to prove her knowledge. Think you could do the same? Check out this U.S. Citizenship Test with actual questions from the INS version. I got 11/11, but a couple of them I had to think about. (Link courtesy of Mia.)
August 17, 2002

Misery. At one point tonight, I think I felt as physically bad as I've ever felt in my life. I was sitting on a bench late at night and miles from home, shivering in the cold and rain, having just thrown up in a garbage can, praying that I would just open my eyes and be home in my bed. My stomach has been hurting for a few days, but I thought I was well enough today to attend a friend's barbecue. I was wrong. But don't worry. The Snook is taking good care of me. He got me home, and I'm so relieved to be here I could weep. I'm gonna go sleep for a long time and hopefully I'll be in better shape next time you hear from me.
August 16, 2002

Psychological Test: This is a story about a girl. Her mother dies and while she's attending the funeral she meets a man. She's never seen him before in her life, but she feels an instant connection and falls head over heels in love with him. A few days later, this happy girl kills her own sister. What was her motive? Think of your answer and then read on...

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Hooray! After nine long months in the 56K wilderness... We have ADSL again! No more crappy dialup connection. Surfing the web is a joy once more - which means you can probably expect a lot more posting. :)

You know that episode of Friends where Monica teaches Chandler how to appreciate a bath? Well, I've been doing that with the Snook. Our new house has this big, deep, old-fashioned claw-footed bathtub that's so long I can stretch my legs out fully in it. It even came with this groovy little brass shelf/basket that sits across the middle to hold your Diet Coke and chocolate. (Well, really it's for soap, but my way is more fun.) Anyway, as you might imagine we've both been taking way more baths than usual since we moved in. I'm personally a big fan of the LUSH bath ballistics, which make the water all fizzy and perfumed. Some of them even have rose petals and seaweed and glitter in them! Of course, the Snook being a manly fellow, he has - up until this point - refrained from polluting his bath water with all the crap I seem to find necessary. Today that all changed, though, when I brought home a "Blue Skies and Fluffy White Clouds" Bubble Bar. I demonstrated to him that you just break off a chunk and throw it in the running water, and voila! You have mounds of big fluffy bubbles to play in. He didn't realize he'd come out smelling of patchouli, though, til after he'd been soaking in it for nearly an hour. Tee hee. :)

How do you like your bath? Or are you a shower person?

The hot glow of electric sex in the window...Looking for a unique gift for that special someone? How about a Leg Lamp? Yes, seriously. You can even customize the stocking, shoe, and lampshade to complement any decor. For an extra fifteen bucks, they'll stamp "FRA-GI-LEE" on the side of the box and enclose a "Major Award" certificate. I know what my old man's getting for Christmas this year! :)
August 15, 2002

Wow, this Baby Name-O-Meter is pretty cool. Enter your name and you can see its popularity graphed over the last century. Kristine seems to have appeared out of nowhere in the 1940s, peaked in the '70s (when it landed on me), and it's now in decline. Now I'm totally curious about its origins. Was there some famous World War II chick named Kristine that everybody copied? (Link courtesy of Gael.)

Go vote for your favorite Dum Dum flavor. I think the poll is pretty much academic, though, since everybody knows that Cream Soda is far and away the best. Sour Apple is pretty good too, though. (Link courtesy of fellow Cream Soda-lover Max.)
August 14, 2002

Lance in Space Mix CD CoverLance in Space!
At long last, I present to you my magnum opus. Twenty-two space age songs with a heap of surprise sound effects. I even threw in a robot! The artwork and complete track listing are now online for your perusal. (If you're one of my swappees, you might want to wait so as not to spoil the surprise.) Oh, and see if you can spot the monkey!

Shell shock.
Did I mention that I'm trying out all the classes at my gym? Well, I am. I got inspired last week and took in a session of Body Pump, which nearly killed me. It's basically synchronized weight lifting to music, and even though I used the least amount of weight possible I still couldn't walk for two days. I did it again later in the week and it went much better, though. I'm gonna keep doing that one. Then on the weekend I tried out Pilates, which I thought was BORING. Seriously. It wasn't even as stretchy or breathey as I expected. It was like baby yoga. I have changed my mind about it slightly, since I woke up the next day with crazy soreness in unusual places, like the sides of my abs and my triceps. So obviously I got something out of it. But overall, I wasn't impressed.

So tonight's experiment? A beginner's step/aerobics class. Okay, those of you who know me in person are probably laughing at this point. Why? Because I'm the clumsiest person ever. I can be walking on a perfectly flat street with nothing nearby and fall flat on my face. So I want you all therefore to picture me, big ol' clumsy me, huffing and puffing and flailing away on the babiest step they had. It was comical. Our instructor and the rest of the class would be bouncing around in syncronized step perfection and I'd be going the wrong way with the wrong leg at the wrong time. Regardless, I toughed it out for half an hour until we switched it up to aerobics. Then I really made an ass out of myself. I haven't done "the grapevine" since high school, and it seriously showed. I actually bumped into the girl next to me, like, three times because my body persisted in "step-touching" left when everyone else was going right. The extra loud music and yelling of the instructor was just so confusing. It was nearly as bad as spinning. Within ten minutes I gave up and hauled my bewildered ass to an exercise bike. I don't think I'll be doing any more that.
August 13, 2002

Wisdom Springs is an interesting site where real people post about the city they live in - what they like about it, what they don't, and what visitors should know. I've added an entry for Sydney. You should add one too, especially if you live somewhere interesting!

I just saw the weirdest thing. I was walking into Newtown to get my "Lance in Space" CD booklets printed (more on that later), when I passed this guy wearing a tuxedo jacket with tails. "That's odd," I thought. Then I realized he was also wearing a black T-shirt, red three-quarter length pants and bright yellow tennis shoes. Picture that in your mind and tell me who it reminds you of. That's right... MICKEY MOUSE. He was dressed just like Mickey Mouse. But he wasn't wearing, like, mouse ears or anything so I don't know if it was intentional or not. But there's no way you could put that outfit together by accident, right?
August 10, 2002

My friend Martin went to Cornwall recently and took some pictures worth checking out. My favorites are the ones from the Eden Project, where giant domes have been built in a crater to create different climates (a "Living Theatre of Plants & People"). The scale of the place is just astonishing. It looks so tomorrow. I can't believe it's in England.
August 9, 2002

Friday Five:

1. Do you have a car? If so, what kind of car is it?
Nope. I haven't had one in years. Luckily you don't need one in London or Sydney. The last couple times I went home I rented one to make the trip to Indiana from Chicago.

2. Do you drive very often?
Nope. The last time was November of last year when we stopped off in the States on our way to Australia. I don't even ride in cars that often. We take a cab occasionally, but mostly I use public transport. Actually I probably won't be driving anytime soon since my US license expired in March and Indiana doesn't let you renew over the Internet. I could get an Australian one, but it's much harder here and I probably wouldn't pass (since I don't have a lot of experience driving in big cities).

3. What's your dream car?
A vintage cherry red Volkswagen Beetle convertible with leather interior.

4. Have you ever received a ticket?
I've gotten a couple of warnings, but only one ticket. See below.

5. Have you ever been in an accident?
I think it was the summer before college, and I was driving with my then-boyfriend near his house in Michigan. It was a really bright day and we were tootling through town at no more than 30 mph. Suddenly I noticed that the car in front of me (a Corvette, naturally) had stopped to turn left. I didn't have time to do anything but slam on the brakes. I couldn't have been going more than 5mph when I hit it, but of course I had to put a big scratch in the bumper. My car fared worse; I had jammed the brake pedal so hard that it got stuck down and my boyfriend had to yank it up so I could pull off the road. Soooo, anyway, the lady driving was already calling the cops on her mobile within ten seconds and I knew I was pretty much screwed. I ended up getting a $100+ ticket for "rear ending" and my insurance, of course, went through the roof. Whatever. I'm so glad I don't have to drive anymore.

Big hugs to my poor sister Amy, who fell over in her chair at work and cut her head open on a filing cabinet. She had to get staples in her head! Poor little sister.

Wooohoo! And we are GO for "Lance in Space"! October 28 is the big day. I wonder if I should send him a copy of the CD? :)
August 8, 2002

Oh man... a ShowBiz Pizza/Chuck E. Cheese Tribute Site! I had a birthday at ShowBiz Pizza once, before it merged with Chuck E. Cheese. It was seriously the best party ever. I got to sit in a big throne and Billy Bob (the animatronic hillbilly bear) called me up on stage to talk to him. This site is seriously taking me back. They even have mp3s! (Link courtesy of Matt.)

Guess who's coming to Sydney? Bea Arthur! She's performing as part of the Gay Games Sport and Cultural Festival. I'm trying (unsuccessfully) to get the Snook to accompany me. Too bad none of you big Bea fans (you know who you are!) are here to come along!

Well, we're supposed to be a week into "Back When We Were Grownups". How's everybody doing? I know some of the international folks had difficulty getting a copy. So far it's just me and Khay in the forums. I'm starting to get worried that the group enthusiasm has waned now the project has become a reality. So time for a roll call - who's actually reading this one? (I'm not trying to rush you; I'm just wondering whether everybody else has taken a pass and we should skip ahead to the next one.)
August 7, 2002

Snookums has a new hobby - home brewing. That's him with his first batch of "wort" down in our kitchen. When it's all done, it'll make 20 liters of beer. Yeah, that's a lot. It's currently in the first "fermenting" stage, which means that all the little yeasties inside are turning the sugar into alcohol and releasing carbon dioxide, which bubbles out that valve at the top. (I'm already getting sick of the "GLUB... GLUB..." noises every five seconds.) Then when that's done, he's got to fill all the bottles and let them sit to further ferment and create the bubbles. All I know is, we're going to have one hell of a party when this stuff is finally ready. We're not even supposed to be drinking beer! (Too many carbs, you know.)

I have a crush on a historian. They're reshowing Simon Schama's History of Britain series here in Australia and I'm smitten with him all over again. He's, like, the coolest nerd ever. He stalks around British ruins wearing glasses and a leather jacket and explaining wars and kingships. Apparently he just scored a sweet new deal for more books and shows. *swoon* I'm a historian groupie.
August 5, 2002

What. A. Day.
I had three pressing appointments today, all of which were nerve-wracking in different ways. First, I hauled myself out of bed and into the gym for the 9:30 "Pump" class. This is basically synchronized lifting with free weights. It wasn't as hard as yoga, thankfully, and I got a great workout. (I have a feeling I won't be able to lift my arms in the morning though.) Our instructor was the funniest, campiest, bitchiest gay man I've met in some time. I'm already planning to go again next week.

Next I had to head to the Enmore Theatre to discuss doing some part-time "front of house" work. It's a great old theatre only a couple of blocks from our house, but it's mainly a concert venue these days. I won't know for a few weeks if they need me. If they do, I'll most likely be ushering or bartending. How sweet would that be? Me, slinging beers at a rock concert! (For the Yanks: it's not like in American stadium venues. This is an actual old theater with all the chairs and stuff ripped out. The bars are actually inside along the walls and back.) I think it would be totally fun.

And last but not least, I had my big important interview with these folks. I was worried that it was going to be a really stuffy corporate place, but instead everyone was really laid back and nice. It's in a great building down in the city with views of the Harbour Bridge. As usual I went in planning to be all poised and professional and within five minutes ended up yammering away like I always do. I guess that's for the best, though. Lots of folks can do what I do; the only thing that distinguishes me is my enthusiasm and passion. Hopefully that's what came across. (We talked for twice as long as we were supposed to, so fingers crossed!)

So in my book, I went three-for-three today. *phew* Thanks for everyone's words of encouragement!
August 4, 2002

It's that time again!
More fun with Australian culture! I'll give you the name of an actual Aussie television program, and you guess what the show's about. (As usual, those of you Down Under are disqualified.) Guess away!
  1. McLeod's Daughters
  2. White Collar Blue
  3. Young Lions
  4. Kath & Kim
  5. All Saints
  6. The Secret Life of Us
I reckon some of you Brits have probably seen the last one, so don't ruin it! The others should be all safely unknown. Whoever gets the most right (or makes me laugh the hardest) shall be the winner and will be awarded with my recommendation if you ever apply to be a TV executive. :)

Good grief. Remember how excited I was that Wagamama, my favorite London restaurant, opened a branch in Sydney? I've just discovered the other half of that karmic equation. School Disco is coming here as well. Yes, you can now dress up as a slutty schoolgirl and get drunk on alcopops in London, Manchester, Ibiza, and Sydney. This is some globalization I could do without. (Here's my old rant on it if you want to refresh your memory.)

The Book Group site is finally live! All of the group-related blog posts are provided as well as the schedule of books to come. (Posts will still be visible on the w-g homepage too.) There's a space in the sidebar for links to participant websites, so if you'd like to maybe pick up a little free traffic (and you're participating!), leave a comment and I'll add you. And last but not least... The forums are open! I've even started off the "Back When We Were Grownups" discussion. (I finished it yesterday. I'm a fast reader and I'm unemployed, remember? But no rush; just jump in when you get done.) There's also a forum for website and group suggestions, so feel free to let me know what's on your mind.
August 3, 2002

Advice needed!
I don't have much time left to put together my Metafilter CD Swap discs. I've got two possible themes/playlists picked out, but I'm not sure which to go with. The first is an entire CD of REM covers, from Tori Amos doing "Losing My Religion" to William Burroughs interpreting "Star Me Kitten". Several of the songs are from an obscure tribute CD I tracked down many years ago. The second option is "Music to Watch Space Girls By - A Mix to Accompany Lance Bass on his Trip to the International Space Station". Seriously. (I completely nicked the novelty theme idea from Bill.) Anyway, it's a generally upbeat collection of all the space-themed songs I could find. So which would you rather get? Do you think people would prefer a nerdy REM collection or a nerdy space compilation? (Yeah, I'm a nerd.) Of course, I could always send out both...

Friday Five:
My answers are going to suck this week, as I know jack squat about genealogy.

1. What is your lineage? Where are your ancestors from?
Well, one-quarter is Korean. That's my maternal grandmother. The other three grandparents are all American. I really haven't done any research, but I'm pretty sure that the "Howard" side of the family is British. (Sidenote: There's a Castle Howard in England! I bet I'm in line for the throne.) The "Manns" and "Harter" sides probably lean towards German. When the Snook and I visited last year, my grandma showed us all these old scrapbooks she had and pointed out a picture of a Native American woman. Apparently that was, like, my great-great-grandmother or something. I had no idea. So throw in a little Cherokee too.

2. Of those countries, which would you most like to visit?
Definitely Korea. Ideally I'd like to take my mom and grandmother along on a big trip, if I could afford it. It's so close to Australia (relatively speaking), though, I may end up taking a mini-trip with the Snook if we can swing it.

3. Which would you least like to visit? Why?
Well, it's not really a country, but quite frankly, the "American Indian" bit is the least interesting to me. I've never really romanticized that culture and I don't think this familial revelation is going to change that. I'm scared of horses. I'm not a big outdoorsy person. (I did see Pocahontas, like, five times though.) So that's the part I'd probably least like to "revisit".

4. Do you do anything during the year to celebrate or recognize your heritage?
Nope. We eat Korean food every now and then, but not on any specific occasion.

5. Who were the first ancestors to move to your present country (parents, grandparents, etc)?
Wait. My "present" country? That's Australia, which would make it... ME. Yep, I'm my first ancestor to move here. (In terms of America, I have no clue. Man, I wish somebody in my family would research this stuff.)

When it rains, it pours.
Remember that job interview I had last week? I got it! It's another contract project where I'll be working from home. I'll be developing an entire site - database, backend, frontend, everything - all by myself. I'm excited to start. And guess what else? I have two more interviews on Monday! One is another contract IT position, and the other is a part-time position working front of house at the nearby Enmore Theatre. To be honest, I'm more excited about the latter. It's a great venue, and they get all sorts of concerts and shows. (That's where we saw Ben Folds.) In fact, I'm going to ask about a job for the Snook as well. It's only a couple nights a week, and it would be so fun to do it together. I'll keep you posted on the outcome.

Ebert's got a nice story about Clint Eastwood, who's one of Snookums's and my dad's favorite movie stars. I like a guy who admits his age. I don't like Westerns so much myself, so I haven't seen a lot of his work. He was damn sexy in this movie, though.

Evan Dando has been spotted in Melbourne. *flashing back to alterna-teen youth* Ahh, the Lemonheads. Sassy. Converse Chuck Taylor's. I remember once reading that a fan asked Evan Dando to go to Prom with her and he went. Embarrassingly, at the time I wished it had been me. I wonder if he still has his beautiful long hair?

"Tiger Woods, Nike spokesman and unmarried father of none..."
Ooh, this is such a good rant. The author takes on sportswriters who always include a woman's marital or family status when writing about female competitors, as if they can hardly believe that a mother could also be a first-class athlete. In a roundabout way, it also reminds me of something that happened in London a year or two ago, where a woman was killed outside a train station. Every headline blared "MOTHER OF THREE GUNNED DOWN" or something similar. As if crimes are somehow more senseless when perpetuated against a breeder. Why should the fact that she had children have anything to do with it? Somebody died, that's horrible. Somebody won a race, that's great. This need to single out women (whether for additional pity or congratulations) on the basis of their "domestic achievements" is patronising and unnecessary.

New Poll! In honor of my near death experience, I want your opinion on my fearsome attacker.

Our new houseThe suburban jungle...
Yes, this is your first glimpse of our new house. Isn't it cute? I just love the brick. The house is narrow but it goes back pretty far. Ma Snook took this picture when she came down to help us move a few weeks ago. (That's me looking particularly unattractive on the right, and the Snook himself peering out of the front door.) I'm hoping to get indoor photos taken soon, as soon as we get the last of the new furniture and hang up all our pictures.

Okay, see, that's where the post was supposed to end. Instead we now have to talk about something scary: spiders. I'm not a fan. In fact, I've been developing a rather severe case of arachnophobia since we moved. See, all the most poisonous beasties in the world are here in Australia. Most of them, the snakes and jellyfish and stuff, don't live in the middle of the city and I don't have to worry about them. The spiders, however, do. And some of them are downright nasty. (Last week at the Slashdot meetup, even the most hardened lifelong Sydneysiders admitted to being petrified of funnel web spiders.) In our nice little modern apartment, I didn't even think about creepy crawlies. Now we live in an old house, a house with street-level entrances and a back garden. I think about them. I especially think about them when I go out to the shed to do the laundry. I just know they're going to be in there. Anyway, this is all background information. The point of all this rambling is...

Huntsman spiderThis bastard crawled across my hand tonight. It's a Huntsman spider, which is technically supposed to be one of the harmless ones. It was still frickin' huge and hairy and scary though. I was out on the front porch moving the trash and recycling bins out onto the curb. I reached for the recycling bin and suddenly this thing was crawling over my hand. I seriously jumped, like, three feet straight backwards and started shaking my arms like mad. (There may have been some screaming, but to be honest, I've blacked most of it out.) I ended up on the sidewalk with the spider sitting on the welcome mat looking at me. I had no idea what kind it was, nor whether it would bite me if further provoked. So I did the only thing I could do... I stood there and yelled for Snookums to come rescue me. He showed up and explained that it was harmless, and then proceeded to bash it with a newspaper since I was still hyperventilating. Dude, I can still feel it. I have a feeling my phobia's only going to get worse.

Do you share my pain? Or are you a friend to the eight-legged freaks?

In case you're wondering, we haven't forgotten to pay the electricity bill. CouchCam has simply been down for a couple days without us noticing. I tend to surf with images turned off (because of our slow connection), so neither of us caught the error til today. It's been uploading nothing but blackness for 72 hours. You guys are supposed to tell me this stuff! Anyway, I'm going to take it down for awhile until we get it fixed.
August 1, 2002

I was pretty surprised to see that NBC has picked up the rights to the British show The Kumars at No. 42 in an attempt to retain its Thursday night ratings crown. The Snook and I are big fans of the Kumars, who are an Indian family living in Wembley that host a chat show in their back garden. Guests have to come through the house and meet the whole family (Mom, Dad, and crazy Grandma) before going onstage to be interviewed by the son, Sanjeev. No, it's not real, but the guests are and it's still hilarious. (We were damn happy to find it's on here in Oz.) But I just couldn't picture Americans getting all the Indian jokes. Then I read that they're going to redo it with a Mexican-American family. Ahhh! Now that makes more sense. Although I don't think there's as much a tradition of self-deprecating Mexican-American humor as there is with the Indian-English. And other than Millionaire, US networks have a bad habit of royally screwing up their British imports (i.e. Cold Feet, Men Behaving Badly). This could be very sucky indeed. (Off topic: Indian-English? Is that what you'd say? That looks weird.)

I somehow found myself in an argument over SUVs at Metafilter today. I think a lot of my attitude towards them (and their drivers) comes from my years at ND. It seemed like over half of the undergraduates brought them to school and you never, ever saw one filled to capacity. They were status symbols, not off-road vehicles. (The prevalence of "Eddie Bauer" special editions will attest to that.) Sure, it's nice not to have to shovel around your car in the winter, but is it really necessary to burn that much fuel just to go up to Meijer and pick up a case of Coke? See, I'm working myself into a rant again.

Three whales have been frolicking in Sydney Harbour for the last couple of days, having stopped off for a break on their trip to Antarctica. They're heading out, but apparently some of the ferry pilots saw more coming in last night. I can't believe I live in a place where I could go whale watching without leaving dry land. This Midwestern girl is impressed.