31 July 2005

One year in the US of A

Today marks exactly one year of me living in the US, up from the original 3 months I was supposed to spend here. By the end of August I will have officially severed the ties with my job in Australia and will be paid in US dollars. This also brings to an end the fantastic benefits of being an expat: free car, free accommodation and a daily spending allowance. I have already made plans to stay with a friend either as a flatmate or until I find somewhere else to live. I haven't decided yet, but that decision can wait.

Car wise I have been looking around but I've decided to go for a Pontiac Vibe which is what I've been driving here for the past 8 months. I've found it to be reliable, have good handling and good fuel economy and it's not an eyesore. It can also take a bashing as we loaded one up and drove it all over California. It the same as a Toyota Matrix and so is based on the reliable Corolla platform. By far it's the best of the five different rental cars I've had whilst I've been over here. Now I've just got to find one *in black* (very important to have it in black) for a reasonable price before the end of August. Thank god for sites like Kelley Blue book.

29 July 2005


I found this cool Flickr app that shows the social relationships between people at Flickr.
You just plug in the user name and off exploring you go. Mine is "daecks" (without quotes of course) and you'll see how much of a lamer I am with only 2 contacts (currently, of course!)

26 July 2005

How to nearly miss a shuttle launch viewing

1) Get up at 3:30 in the morning. Have a quick shower and then get the hell on the road because I've got to get to the Kennedy Space Center at 7am (3 hours is normally plenty of time. I've done this before. I'm a professional.)

2) Cruise north along the I-95. When going through West Palm Beach, get delayed for over 1/2 hour due to a traffic jam at ~5 in the morning!

3) Keep cruising. Know that last launch viewing attempt there wasn't very much of a line up with the route I took, so take it again.

4) Get in the line up of cars. Hit forehead several times as I realise every man and his dog is using the exact same route I chose, and that the line up is several miles long. At this point realise that I'm *not* really that professional and probably quite the amateur.

5) Move 3 miles in 2.5 hours.

6) Get past the Kennedy Space Center checkpoint. Arrive at Kennedy Space Center at 9:30am, 2.5 hours late.

7) Race through security and get on the VERY LAST BUS LEAVING FOR THE SHUTTLE VIEWING AREA.

8) Once on the bus find out that I got on with 15 seconds to spare.

9) Breathe a massive sigh of relief and get ready to watch some big firecrackers!

Shuttle pics

Some of them have been uploaded to Flickr.

There aren't heaps of them as I got a bit experimental when taking the shots and I botched some of them up. Plus, I was shaking like crazy when I was trying to take the pictures. Eh, nuff excuses. The Flickr folder is here.


Wow wow wow.

I saw the Discovery Shuttle launch just over 6 hours ago and my hands are still jumping around with excitement as I type this (or perhaps that's from the Jolly Rancher 'Screaming Sours' soft and chewy candy that I just ate). Whatever is causing this feeling, I know that what I saw today was just freaking amazing.

Cross another item off the "things I've always want to see and do" list. Pics coming later. I am f#%ken stoked.

24 July 2005

What the?

I was sifting though the documentation for a new power supply I had been given at work when I came across a gem of a cartoon regarding lightning protection, which is oh so appropriate for Florida. Note this piece of equipment is made by a reputable company so I'm wondering why they have an offbeat cartoon like this. Not that it's a bad thing of course.

Yes, "Unprotected power/control lines and antenna installations can be hazardous to equipment and personnel" (and your butt).

I need access to this when choosing movies

I'm a sucker for blurbs on movie rentals that I haven't really heard anything about. If something says "Fantastic! A wild ride" by even some anonymous John Doe sort of reviewer, I'm prone to being wooed in by the review snippet and I'll rent the movie. After I've watched some movies though using that method as a guideline however I tend to end up thinking "that reviewer must be on crack", but I don't end up changing my ways. There are two people who may be reading this blog (seriously people, get outside and get a breath of fresh air or something, it's much more beneficial) that I know of who are probably nodding their heads right now. Nav is one of them.

Enter Blurb Racket! This site takes the review snippets and puts them back into context. Now if I could access that site while choosing movies I would probably be a bit more careful in my movie choice. Or maybe I wouldn't. That Spanish flick had R all over it so perhaps I should just remember to *think*...

Pffft, yeah right!

20 July 2005

Shopping at Bal Harbour

Update: Google maps has been updated again. Now you can see the Bal Harbour shops from above hybrid stylie

I had to get a new Amex card recently which required me to travel to the Amex travel centre at Bal Harbour shopping centre. I only got a quick glimpse of what this place was like at the time, but hell, the fact that I had to pay to park and that everyone looked like millionaires made me want to check this place out some more. I did that recently and holy crap, I've never seen stuff cost so much before.

I walked into one store that had a nice white polo shirt that in place of buttons had a zipper, and under the zipper there was a small colourful section. Hard to describe but it looked pretty cool. I walked in and felt like I was severely underdressed but started looking for one in my size. The shop attendant came to help me and we couldn't find one in my size, thank god, because the bloody shirt cost US$400. By that time I knew I was completely out of my league in this store, so I faked disappointment at the fact they didn't have the shirt size I wanted and quickly exited. I paused to catch my breath once out of the shop and out of sight of the shop attendant. Once I had regained my composure I soldiered on. This happened at a few other stores - I saw really cool stuff that was just way too expensive. However all was not lost. GF Ferre were having an up to 70% off sale on selected items. There was one shirt there that was just fricken awesome. I tried it on and I felt like a million bucks. I had to buy it. I did. It was actually a sort of reasonable price, but I think that was because I was used to seeing jeans and so forth upwards of $300.

Anyway, that was a brief overview of my shopping experience. There is so much cool stuff there that is so far out of my price range it makes me want to cry, but oh well. I'm sure I'll get over it.

Right, that's the first and last metrosexual post I make to this blog :-)

14 July 2005

Ultrafest 2005

You wouldn't believe it, but I finally got the movies from Ultrafest from my friend. You need Apple Quicktime to view these files. The files are of a Drum and Bass tent, Moby, Oakenfold (I think it was anyway) and a quick location shot. Click on this link to get to the files. If you don't feel like waiting to download them (who would?), you can log in using the username "iwannalook" and the password "letmein" (without the quotes). Someday I'll find a hosting site that's a bit more friendly. Someday.

Here are some crappy snaps of some of the more interesting groups of acts for the festival. I didn't get to see all of them as we arrived later in the day.

Don't try this at home

For some reason, I had not eaten since last night when I had a red bull at 3pm today.


Although I was typing at a rate that seemed like 100 words per minute and thinking relatively clearly after consuming the Red Bull, at 5pm I can safely say I can no longer think straight nor can I even type. My mind is wandering off far from home base. I have all the symptoms of being drunk but I have not consumed any alcohol. This is fricken weird.

Yes, Red Bull gives you wings, but where the f?#k have I landed?

13 July 2005

12 July 2005

I am fricken stoked

I did not expect this at all, but the launch viewing tickets arrived in the mail today. That's fricken awesome.

The last straw

After a long day sometimes one just wants to retire for the night and do absolutely nothing. Firstly though, one must find a car park. This was the only car park "vacant" near my apartment:

Seriously, who "parks" their mountain bike in a car park?

At any rate, I bought the perfect thing to take my mind off the real world on the weekend and take part in a virtual one. 100 big ones got me a Nintendo Gamecube, controller, memory card and 2 games (Metroid and Zelda). This should keep my mind off of trashing people's mountain bikes, for a little while at least.

11 July 2005


I was really, really looking forward to seeing the shuttle launch at Kennedy Space Centre this Wednesday. I was going to tie an Australia flag around my shoulders and shout out
"Go Andy! Go you good thing go!"... and yeah, he'd hear that from 6 miles away. However as things go it seems I'll be observing the launch from somewhere else. Call it my stupid absent mindedness but the tickets I purchased way back when (beginning of April I think) were valid for that launch and the next rescheduled launch, if that happened. I know the launch has been rescheduled at least twice, but for some reason it never clicked with me I'd have to order more tickets. I think I just plain forgot at the time about the rescheduling terms.

Here is the part that bites. You don't get refunded for tickets. Period. It's sort of like paying $50 to go see a performer, the show gets cancelled, but they keep your money. I don't know what to think of this - there is a pain in my head where I think of how I just lost $100 for the satisfaction of... nothing. Yeah, this was all in their terms and conditions that tickets were not refundable and I bought the tickets *knowing* that but not really *thinking* about it. I feel like I've just given away money to some guy who claims he's selling Nikon D70s but is really based in Spain or somewhere else outside of the US and is trying to rip people off (I wonder if he did get any people's money...).

I don't really care about going to watch it offsite anymore because there are supposed to be other places to see the launch from. But you know, even an e-mail saying something like this would have been fantastic: "Your tickets for the original launch are now invalid. You can re-purchase tickets starting from such and such a date and time". Perhaps some tickets will just magically appear in the mail for me in the next day. Yeah - pigs, flying, stuff.

07 July 2005

Weird day

I don't know what other people were doing but I spent most of my day just watching the news regarding the terrorist attacks in London. I was extremely grateful to get e-mails from people who I knew were in the area, telling others that they were ok. So to those of you over in London, I hope you continue to remain safe.

It's times like these that Wikipedia (that free, online encyclopedia for those not in the know) really shines. They have an excellent summary of the situation as it stands, and I actually found myself wandering off to other parts of the wikipedia site to, for example, read about Pan Am Flight 103. I do this because I'm an information freak and I like to try to understand the reasons why people do things like this. Plus, the poet Sylvia Plath wrote some poetry about the macabre nature of humans and how we are in awe of tragedy. I guess I'm expressing that part of myself by monitoring the Internet.

In other news, it seems Florida is about to be bombarded with another hurricane. The season starts in June and ends in November, and we've already had a couple of tropical storms come through. Hurricane Dennis is poised to come past the west coast of Florida. This of course will also likely delay the lauch of the space shuttle Discovery on Wednesday which I am extremely keen on seeing. The space shuttle has delayed a lot of my visits to other cities in the US - I don't want to plan a trip and then find that the shuttle is going to launch the same time I was due to go on holiday. Oh yeah, my problems are just huge...

04 July 2005

July 4 Fireworks

I have to quickly blog on what is probably the most impressive fireworks display I've ever seen (well, the year 2000 fireworks display in Sydney was pretty good too). It's not impressive because of the fireworks themselves, it's impressive because from my lucky vantage point everywhere I look I see fireworks. Suburban South Florida is putting on a heck of a free show.

02 July 2005

Independence day weekend

Is already off to a good start. I woke up this morning with a painful feeling in my mouth that indicated the slice of pizza I had at 3:30am this morning was indeed hot. I spent last night in Fort Lauderdale with some friends mostly attempting to dance to RnB. I succeeded for quite a few hours and then I just got sick of it.

What was most surprising about last night, for me anyway, was that Karma lounge is in fact not dead. I spoke to one of the people behind the bar and they said "yeah, that person who wrote the article got it wrong... we don't know where she got that information from. She was actually here last week...". So, there you go. I think they've actually turned down the volume by a few decibels too, but there still weren't many people there.

It's pretty cool how fireworks can be purchased at the local supermarket for July 4 activities. What I found really funny though were the names of the fireworks, like "Freedom fireworks" and "Desert strike". Ok, so they're even trying to put subliminal messages through fireworks these days. I was wondering if when the fireworks exploded they said "Mission Accomplished" (or as the Daily Show put it in an anagram, "C'mon, I lied. So scampish"). I'll get back to you on that one. Seriously though, there are fireworks going off in quite a few areas when I was looking over my balcony before. There is a pretty cool vibe around the place at the moment.

I've worn my "Florida... stay awhile" shirt that has the drawings of graves on an island a few times now. I've had quite a few compliments about it so far from people who I think thought that I was being patriotic or something like that, so I've had to point out to them what the graves on the island mean and then I explain that I'm moving over here, and that the shirt is me having a go at myself. Ummm, a lot of people don't get that.

Well, I'm off to watch some more backyard fireworks before deciding what to do tonight. Adios!

A "what the heck is that person doing now"

I sometimes get curious and find out what people are doing today who I remember from my childhood. Can any of you remember the movie "The Wizard". I can remember loving this movie at the time because it had Super Mario Bros 3, a huge gaming screen, and a Nintendo Powerglove. Mind you, I haven't watched it since then... I didn't want to ruin the childhood memory of it being a great movie. Anyway, there was a girl in the movie, Jenny Lewis, who apart from the guy with the powerglove is one of the people who I remember most from the movie. I even forgot the movie had Fred Savage in it, but I only associate him with "The Wonder Years" and facial moles these days.

I digress. These days Jenny Lewis is actually the lead singer for a band called "Rilo Kiley". They're an indie rock band from California and after listening to some of the tunes on their website I thought they weren't too bad at all. I think their latest CD would be quite appropriate for cruising around on 2-lane American highways.