January 30, 2008

Rain, I love ya, but please, please go away already

Really, I do like the rain. Many others get down when it's gray and drizzly, especially when it goes on for a few days, and I usually love it. I enjoy the bite to the wind, the anticipation of a crack of thunder (though that happens quite rarely around here), I don't mind getting rained on, and get a kick out of seeing other people's umbrellas get blown inside out.

This happens to remind me of another picture from Australia that I wanted to post, by the way. This picture was taken a second before I caught a streak of lightning out of the corner of my eye and we were treated to a wonderful storm in Sydney.

It's not as impressive as I was hoping for -- Texas April and a picture she posted recently was my inspiration and it fell far, far short -- but it reminds me so much of that moment when I knew we were in for a storm, and how great it was to have the weather cool down so dramatically that day.

Later that day I took what turned out to be my favorite picture of the Sydney Opera House, after the rain had stopped and we were waiting for a ferry, as the light in the sky was turning to dusk and the lights on the building were just winking on:

But I digress. Now, rain has become my electronic nemesis. For some reason, whenever we get a lot of rain, my DSL goes wonky and I have no Internet connection at home. That has been the case for the last few days. Very frustrating, though B2W3 came to my rescue this evening (again) and got me all fixed back up, so the online world is once again my oyster.

I'd planned to do a more in-depth post about the trip on the 26th, since that's Australia Day and it just seemed so appropriate, but the rain put the kibosh on that. Now it's a little late and this is just about all I've got time for tonight.

There's still more time for a couple more cute animal pictures, though! (All were taken at the Mansfield Zoo.)

White kangaroo (which I was mistakenly calling a wallaby because I couldn't look it up online to check)

Grey kangaroo (waiting to see if I was going to put out with some food)

Agile wallaby (I love how his little mouth was open like he was saying "Hey! Get on with it already!")

January 23, 2008

If I weren't so tired, I'd have a much snappier title here

I have so much to say about the trip and pictures to post, but I'm just not able to focus my mind quite enough yet to do it. I had almost zero jet lag from the trip over there -- I'm happy to say that my technique for circumventing it worked beautifully -- but I couldn't do the same thing on the way home and I have been a bit of a mush-head since my return.

That's right, I said mush-head.

Now, holding my mushy head up high, I'm going to go and be unsuccessful in getting to sleep. Again.

January 17, 2008

Don't bite the hand that feeds you

The silence in here is kind of resounding, but I'm going to be undeterred and forge on. I'm still in Australia and having a great time. As promised, here's a picture of a true highlight of this trip:

Yep, that's me, feeding kangaroos. I did it by hand without the little plastic spade, too, but it was hard to get them to stay still long enough to take a picture that way. After you satisfied their tummies, they'd let you pet them, which was pretty damned neat.

The ostrich was another favorite:

This guy and his emu pals followed us around as we circled their huge enclosure, hoping we'd show them some more love and ignore the camels.

One animal you couldn't really pet was the dingo, which looks adorable and innocent in this picture:

...but we all knew he'd take a hand off if he got the chance. (Go ahead, get the dingo jokes out of your system, we did.) Though one of our group, who shall remain nameless, was bold enough to touch one of them on its doggy nose. She still has her finger, however, so there's no gory story to relate.

All this took place at the Mansfield Zoo, which is the coolest, most casual zoo I've ever been to. You could feed the majority of the animals, and watch the carnivores being fed, but it's no mere petting zoo. They have a pair of lion brothers who were very anxious to get their dinner, and you can be sure we didn't actually get to help with that!

I'm having trouble keeping a connection, so I'm going to wrap this up. Just a few more days here in Oz, and still so much to see! We're back in Melbourne and we're hoping to get in to the Australian Open for at least a few hours, and go to the Melbourne Zoo, as well, so we can finally see a koala.

January 11, 2008

No Worries (and yes, they really do say that a lot)

Greetings from Australia! I'm sure this is going to show that I'm writing this on Friday night, but it's actually Saturday evening here in Victoria. We've left Melbourne for a little while and we're rusticating in the country for some R&R.

Right now I'm atop Mt. Buller, attending a beer festival. The beer I tried was good, but the arm wrestling competitions were far better! They have music and some comedy, as well, and everyone is having a fine time. The only fly in the ointment is the bloody flies. They're E V E R Y W H E R E, CONSTANTLY!!! It really gets annoying quite quickly -- I'm thinking about buying a mosquito netting for my hat, which I saw in a store here earlier. I thought they were bad in Melbourne along the river, but so far the Mansfield area is definitely holding its own.

There's a lot to share, but it's going to have to wait until I have a little more time. Finding an Internet connection out here isn't the easiest thing, though we've had good success at public libraries. The terminal I'm on now is in the middle of a ski resort (of all things) and you pay in 20 minute chunks. But there's beer to be had and music to be enjoyed before we head back down the mountain, continuing our search for koalas. We've spotted some kangaroo and tons of wild cockatoos, but thus far the koalas and wombats have kept themselves hidden. Next time I post, hopefully I'll be able to share some pictures.

January 06, 2008

Buck up, buttercup, you're going to Oz!

So, at long last, all the elements are in place so I can tell you about our big plans. Believe it or not, April and I are going to Australia tomorrow!

She tells the story about how we came to this unexpected adventure, but I want to take a moment to thank Al myself for this amazing opportunity. Unfortunately, his plans fell through and he won't be making the trip with us; I was hoping to thank him personally. I'd also like to thank April for asking me along. Maybe if this goes really well I can talk her into trying out for the Amazing Race with me, since I've been trying and failing for years to get B2W3 to go for it.

We cleared some mighty hurdles to get to this point, but tomorrow we head to LAX to meet up with a planeload of poker players and assorted folks. Twenty-four hours from now we'll be winging our way to Melbourne for a two-week vacation. We've made plans to stay in places with Internet connections, so hopefully we'll be able to provide updates while we're away. But if we can't, just know that we're having a heck of a good time Down Under, where it's summer right now -- a far cry from the wet, gray, winter weather we're currently experiencing here in NorCal.

A few answers to questions in advance: 1. I don't plan to. 2. No, we're not flying on Oceanic Air. 3. Yes, we're going to the zoo so there will be kangaroo sightings. 4. About 17 hours. 5. I certainly hope so!

Wish us Bon Voyage -- I've got to go pack my ruby slippers now to make sure I get back.

January 03, 2008

Busy busy still busy

Busy. And tired. Planning takes it out of me. But I can hear that wind getting louder - literally and figuratively. We're having stormy weather here with high winds. Hope it doesn't stay bad for long; y'know, in case someone were going to be traveling soon. (I don't know about you, but the suspense is killing me. Should know more tomorrow...if we don't, I'm going to be a nervous wreck this weekend!)

So, let's see, how about a quick link? If you watched "The Next Iron Chef America," this blog's author will be familiar to you. Michael Ruhlman was the judge who gave runner-up John Besh a hard time because his "consomme" wasn't actually consomme. (Also known as "the blond guy" if you weren't paying quite that much attention.) While not a chef himself, he's a writer about all things cooking and chef-related, including his new book The Elements of Cooking, which B2W3 so kindly gave me for Christmas. I've been enjoying his blog since I found it. He even inspired me to make my own stock, which was a lot easier than I anticipated. Bon app├ęblog.

January 02, 2008

Wherein I'm far too busy to trifle with this posting nonsense

This is going to be a short one because I'm rather occupied with intense planning for something I've got brewing with California April. (Yes, I'm blessed with an abundance of Aprils in my life.) Neither of us wants to say too much yet because there are some variables at work and the "j-word" could rear its ugly head.

There doesn't seem to be much interest in commenting recently, so I'm not too worried about someone who does know what's in the air saying something prematurely. (And if you do, just don't.) I know people are coming by and reading because I can "see" you are -- yeah, I'm talking to you, Ohio -- so I'm not that discouraged. Anyway, hopefully all the pieces will come together shortly and we can both share more. I'll just say that, at the moment, I feel a little bit like Dorothy listening to the wind stir.

To keep you entertained while I'm busy, go read Dooce. She's back after being sick for a couple weeks and she has an adorable Christmas present to share. If you aren't already reading her, you should be.

January 01, 2008

Truer words...

Big Chocolate Maura.

Enter a word for your own slogan:

Generated by the Advertising Slogan Generator, for all your slogan needs. Get more Maura slogans.

It has been ages since I did a meme, but I couldn't resist this one that I found over at Texas April's place. You know, this probably should've been the name of my blog; wish I'd thought of it. Though someone is going to make innuendo of it and imply something that shouldn't be implied, I just know it. For that reason, I'm not going to add "you are what you eat."

I hope you'll share your favorite slogan here in the comments if you try it for yourself.