Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rosellas and leaving

So going and working on the rosella project was really fun, I wish I could have stayed longer. I'll post pictures later but for now I'll just give a short run down. We went around checking nest boxed (some of which had chicks in them... I had to take two dead chicks out of one box), that took up the first few days. After that we set up traps on the boxed to catch the parents inside, then a few of us stationed ourselves outside one nest box each (hidden) with walkie-talkies and waited until a parent flew in. It's takes a while! My box was the first to get a parent, so that was neat. The guys would come and collect the bird and we drove back to the testing station (we set up stuff at this old building... we were on someone's farm). That was the first catching day (they hoped to catch 2 birds a day) and Leonie (the other girl... girlfriend to the guy who's project this was) caught one as we were processing the other, but it got away when they arrived to collect it. For processing they just took measurements, tagged it (if it wasn't already), took a blood sample, then did a spectrometry test on different parts of it's body to measure the UV of the colors (these are parrots for anyone who doesn't know what a rosella is). After that bird we went into town to get some food and for the guys, coffee, when it started to rain (it's not good to handle the birds in rain cause it's gets their feathers wet and they're hard to handle) so we went and say the new 007 movie. The next day we went catching again, my tree didn't get the other parent, but Leonie's got one, so they brought me over (cause nothing was happening at my tree) and we processed that one. After that we needed to book it to the train station for me to go home, sadly. :) I really loved it out there (it was in Northeastern Victoria, right on the border with NSW) at Wodonga/Albury. It was so pretty and I really felt more at home! It's funny, just a few days out there made me feel more like I was going to miss Australia more than I had ever the entire year! That's a sign that I am just not made for living in a city all of the time! Luckily I'll have a car in Perth, so will be able to leave when I want! Up until now I have just been working and trying to catch up with people before I leave in 4 days! I have been drawing pictures for my housemates and workmates. For my coworkers I did caricatures of them, and I will give them at Cassie's going away party on Sunday night. :) I still have almost all of my housemates I need to do a picture for, so I really need to get on things!! Wow, so much to do in so little time! Christine is coming down tomorrow (Friday) after work to visit/ pick up a box of stuff that I will keep at her house until I come back. Last night I did a lot of packing so I knew what I needed to put in the box. Anyway, so my last few days are going to be very filled up. My last day of work is on Saturday and I leave Monday (flight's at 12:10 AM).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Perth 5

On Tuesday I went back to Murdoch and met up with the Dean of the Vet Science school, since I didn't get to meet him on Friday. He showed me a bit more of the university, and while on the tour he introduced me to a student (Emily) and some of her friends, who are all vet students. Emily was a 3rd year student, they were trying to raise money for their half way through party (which is really big) by selling chocolates. :P Anyway, after my tour the dean dropped me back off with Emily and went to two of their classes with them, the first one was on how to handle/approach cattle, and the second was genetics. :) It was fun. After that I went into the library for a bit and found the Prince and the Pauper again and continued reading it for a while. I wandered around a bit more then went back to my hostel where I caught the 8:30 bus to the airport along with the couple I met at the hostel (the guy was from New Zealand and the girl from Ireland) and we hung out at the airport talking for a bit. They left first, then me... I sat watching an Aussie soap oprah before the plane left. When I got back to Melbourne I was wearing shorts and flip flops because it had been really warm in Perth (and I didn't bring a coat cause it was really warm in Melbourne when I left). I stepped out of the plane (outside) and I was FREEZING! It was so cold (and wet) that you could see your breath! The worst part was because Tiger Airways is small, they have their own part of the airport that's separated from the rest of the airport and the luggage area is even in this weird outside building. I didn't have to collect luggage but I had to go to the bathroom and so that was cold. Then I had to walk up to the "real" airport. :P When I got there I took out some socks, and even though I looked goofy, I put them on with my flip flops cause my feet were about to fall off. :P Then I got on the Gull shuttle bus back to Geelong. This was at about 6 AM on Wednesday morning btw. I was going to go with Foly (one of our bakers at Muffin Break) to the Geelong Cup (horse racing cups are HUGE in Victoria) but then I found out to go to the party they were going to it was $150 (you get open bar and food) so decided that was too much, plus I didn't have a very suitable dress. So, I napped and then did random stuff at home (can't really remember all I did). And that was my Perth trip! Sorry it's taken so long to tell about all of this, but now I'm finally finished. :P

Friday, November 14, 2008

Perth 4

On Monday I just spent the day wondering around King's Park, which is amazing! There are trails all over the park that are rugged and it feels like you're up in the mountains somewhere! I seriously felt like I wasn't in the city at all, you couldn't even hear anything! Every now and then I would be brought back to reality when a car drove by on a road that was nearby in the park (could only hear it) and only once did I meet a runner, didn't meet anyone else. It was amazing!!

UWA is just on the other side of King's Park, so I also walked over there and hung around on campus for a bit. I ate lunch on the lawn in front of the library. So, a little background story, one of the girls who showed me around the UWA campus told me they called the gardens "Jurassic Park," one reason being that one day she was eating lunch and there was a kookaburra watching her eat and she was watching it, and while this was going on one came from behind and snatched her sandwich! HAHA So, I was sitting there eating my sandwich, minding my own business, when I hear a whoop whoop whoop sound behind me. I turn just in time to see a kookaburra zooming at me and I ducked just in time. It landed in a tree very close to me and watched me eat. I tore off a few pieces of bred and threw them on the ground close to me. The little guy came down, a little nervous, and started (trying) to eat the bread. He was sooooo cute!!!! I LOVE kookaburras!! They're up there in cuteness with ducks and puffins. :P After eating a few pieces, or at least trying too, the few up to a close by tree and I watched him. When I got out my cheese and crackers he again was eyeing my food, and I could see him get ready a few times to try and fly at me and take my cheese and crackers, but he paused because people would walk by behind me. Finally, and mind, I was starting STRAIGHT AT HIM, he flew right towards me, I ducked and saves my cheese and crackers, but it was so bizzar!! What a brave bird. :P

After my bird encounter I went into the library and picked up the Mark Twain book "The Prince and the Pauper," which I have been wanting to read, and I had the urge to read a book and had nothing else to do, and so read that for a while. Like 10 chapters... (not long chapters). I then went and had a lay down on the grass near the beach next to campus. That was relaxing. When I got back to my hostel, I took the initiative to talk with some other travelers and became fairly good friends with a group of British guys, along with 2 New Zealand guys, a few Irish girls and a Belgian girl. Had a good time (one of the British guys was one of the other Matts I mentioned) :P. We would stay up late talking and playing cards and drinking. :) Good times.

UWA has peacocks on campus, in the pics is one of them, which is albino. The building is the library. The bridge is the treetop walk in King's park.

Perth 3/ Fremantle

On Sunday I decided to head over to Fremantle on the train. Whilst on the train I had some conversations with two high school girls and an old Irishman. :P The Irishman was going to the markets cause he was part of a band that was playing there, I ended up seeing him there later on that day before I got on the train back to Perth. Anyway, once I got there I started walking in the direction that my map told me to :P (I had a map of Fremantle that showed the best places to visit, and showed a walking tour around the city). Just a little way down the main road I saw a pretty cool looking didgeridoo store, I almost didn't go in (as I had one now) but then decided to. I am really glad I did, one of the guys that worked there was telling/ showing some guys how to play and I joined them and they asked me if I wanted to try and they were all impressed at how well I did. :P Of course I then mentioned that I play one a bit... just starting out. :) After those customers left the store attendant asked if I wanted to stick around and jam, and of course I did! It was awesome, we sad on the couches they had and he showed me some tricks and gave me tips, it was amazing! After a bit another customer joined our little jamming session (a guy probably in his 20's from England named Matt... random note, since being in Australia I have met three different English guys named Matt. :P). We probably jammed for about an hour, it was amazing! I could've stayed there all day but thought I should actually SEE Fremantle. :P Oh, just one funny thing, the store attendant was originally from japan (he'd been playing the didgeridoo for 12 years!) and I mentioned at one point some of the Japanese words I know, then we started saying some of them into the didgeridoo (as that is one way you make sounds is to say words into it) and one thing we said was arigato taicho arigato taicho, (thank you captain) over and over... it was really funny. :P So, I walked more around Fremantle, and went to the markets (the main thing there, they have amazing markets!). There were some performances outside the market entrance, on my way in is was a woman singing opera (she was amazing) and when I came out it was a comedian/contortionist pirate guy. he's in the 2006 Guiness Book of World Records for swallowing a flaming sword. He was funny but also a bit controversial one could maybe say in things he would joke about. I got one shirt, and one Christmas present for someone, which was the extent of my shopping there. :) I found some really neat stores there though! There was one place where you could dress up as a fairy and a lady would take professional pics of you, neat. There was also a lady who designed/made and sold medieval/Lord of the Rings like dresses! She even has done a few weddings! I thought that was neat. I tried one on cause I had always wanted to wear a dress like that. :) I also went to the shipwreck museum then walked by the beach and had a hot fudge sunday from Mac'ers (McDonalds). The other best part of the day was when I went over by the old jail (or gaol as they spell it here... strange), which had just closed, so I couldn't go in, I saw a little art gallery and decided to go in... one of the best things I did! I was looking at this art, that I REALLY liked, and was noticing that there were no name tags next to the art but noticed that all the ones I had seen so far were by the same guy. There was a guy walking around and we got to talking. He was the artist and the whole building (it wasn't very big though) was his gallery! We had some really great discussions about art!! We probably talked for maybe an hour or close to it! He really inspired me to keep at my art, which I have been really missing and wanting to do more of lately. It was a little funny cause I had also bought a little pad of paper for $1 at the markets, which I been using as a little sketch pad, so had a few sketches and he wanted a look. :) It was just an awesome experience, I'm really glad I went in there! After that I made my way back to the train station, sat by the water and sketched some more for a while while people got on the boat to Rottnest Island (I ended up not going there cause a ticket is $50!). It was a really good day. :)

Perth 2

So, the second day, Saturday, I spent the day just walking around Perth. When I first got there I looked around some gardens and went into a cathedral, which was really nice and relaxing. I find it's nice to go into cathedrals and give thanks to God for all of the wonderful things I've been able to do and have in life... I know I don't have to go into cathedrals to do that, and I do it in general too, but there's something about cathedrals that makes it seem even more special and closer to God. :) Anyway, I had a little map that showed places to go... there's not a whole lot to do in Perth, but it's a nice little city. They have some wonderful gardens for sure though! I was going to go up into the bell tower (the tall pointing thing you'll see in pics), which is sort of the focal monument of Perth, but it was $10 to go up and I didn't want to $10 enough. :P When I got up to The museum, which the art gallery is next to, the gallery was having a display outside. There were all these photographs up taken aerially that showed the word and told facts about the environment and about human usage of resources. It was really neat! I also went inside the gallery and looked at the art in there. After that I went into the museum but didn't look around too much… I've had a lot of museums in my life and at this point many of them seem the same. They had a little photography contest posted in the foyer there as well and so I looked at some of those... it really was a day at looking at photography. :P After that I took the CAT (the free city transport) to King's park and hiked up to the botanical gardens… beautiful! It's really neat because the gardens have a wonderful view over the city! After that I caught a late bus back to the hostel. Not a really eventful day, but nice and relaxing.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Perth 1

I took Tiger airlines (my first time flying with them) and despite the bad things I had heard (because they are the cheapest airline) they were actually a very neat service! All of the staff at every point were very nice, so I had a good first experience with them. I got into Perth around 6:00 PM and was picked up my my hostel (Comfort Backpackers). I got settled and went across the street to Hungry Jacks (Burger King) for dinner cause I was starving (you're not allowed to bring your own food on the plane, and they don't give you any FREE food/drinks... that's one downside to Tiger). The next day I got up early and had free brekkie (provided by the hostel) and caught a bus to Murdoch Uni. When I got there I found that they had printed up a program for me and I was supposed to have gotten there at 7:30 AM (I got there at 9:00 ish because I didn't think they would be open before 8) but they had only sent me the email about this the day before while I was on my way to Perth and so I hadn't been able to check my email. Anyway, it went ok, I didn't get to meet the Dean of the Vet school that day though cause he had meetings. I was given a tour of the campus buildings including their on campus clinic and farm; very cool. Everyone was very nice and very helpful. I got a lot of information sussed out, and later I met with Christina, a 5th year student from California. She has been really helpful for international students, she's set up a website with information on being an international student at Murdoch. She also has her blog up for people to read. Anyway, we talked a lot about different stuff, and we had lunch together. the campus is really beautiful, I like it. I am very excited to go there, which is pretty much a for sure thing now. I will apply this spring and if I get accepted (which everyone I talked to there seemed pretty certain I would... especially since I took time out to go to WA and visit/ talk the the Dean) I will be going in January 2010. Anyway, the day I left Victoria I got an email just before from John Henderson, the prof in the linguistics department at UWA (University of Western Australia) saying that I could come meet with him at 2:00 and then he had a student that would show me around at 3:00, well, I was at Murdoch that day so I wasn't sure I'd make it, but luckily I got done with everything at Murdoch and was able to catch the train up to UWA by 3:00. I ended up having the tour with the student first then talking to John as I was late. There were actually three linguistic girls (one from the UK but grew up here, one from Perth, and one from Minnesota!) that showed me around, they were very nice, very cool girls. :) The UWA campus is THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CAMPUS I HAVE EVER SEEN!!! I absolutely love it! I got a lot of questions answered on David's end of things talking to John, so that was good. I did the best I could anyway with the information that David sent me to ask. :) I talked to David afterwards and he's a bit nervous, but it sounds promising. They are saying that he'd most likely be able to go straight into PhD work (pure research) which is neat but he's not so sure he's prepared enough for that... I think he'd be fine but. After leaving there I went one my way back to the hostel, stopping to get food for the week at IGA.

Before Perth

I know it's been a while since I wrote, sorry. :) So, Ambika (one of my housemates) was on a 9 day fast in honor of the goddess Turga (I think it's actually a really beautiful thing and they do these fasts and things honoring good behavioral practices and beliefs, so I like it). I was thinking of fasting with her mainly because I thought it would be neat to do something from another culture, and plus I've never fasted before. Alas, it fell at a bad time, it was during the week that I had swimming and I didn't want to zap my energy, plus these meals were incorporated into what we paid for, so I wanted to get my money's worth. :) Her fast was that she could only eat potatoes (but can add spices), the principle is that you have to eat simple foods and you don't have to do much in the way of preparation. No grains or wheats. She could also only have one meal a day, at the end of the 9 days she would make a meal for everyone in the house in order to break her fast. She had to serve a girl first and picked me because (and this might seem a bit intimate, but oh well) I was the only girl in the house that had not started her monthly cycle yet. I helped her to prepare some of the food, I had to be the first to be served and Ambika couldn't eat until I did. She also presented me with an apple (for good health) and a dollar coin (for offering) and she had to touch my feet (don't remember why). She had on an Indian suit, she also went and prayed after preparing the meal. I was a really interesting and fun experience, and the meal was very delicious!! After that, on the 16th of October I set out to Perth!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The spirit vs. the body

I have recently discovered an interesting way of looking at life as we know it. It all occurred to me when I was hanging out with the ultimate frisbee players. I was watching people bandage up legs and wounds and taping knees etc. This is when it really dawned on me that our souls are a slave to our bodies. The fact that I have been taking physiology also plays a part in me really starting to think about this. It may seem like one of those obvious parts of life, but I had never really stopped to think about it before; and if many of you have, well I guess I'm a bit slow, but for me this is a small epiphany. Who we are, our personalities, our ability to think and reason and communicate, everything about us is unique and special. Even though I believe animals have many if not all of these qualities (although many of them could be said to be not as advanced as ours) the main thing linking us to animals, AND plants, is that we all have physical bodies that have demands that must be met (I don't want this to sound as if I don't believe all spirits go to Heaven, or wherever, after death; that is something I am not sure of). If we injure ourselves, our soul, our being, is also limited by this. The fact that who we are never dies, but can become changed by our bodies (ie: dementia), or is "forced" into death by our bodies is, to me, very interesting. I think when one really looks at it it's a kind of evidence for an afterlife, at least it reinforced my belief of such. If who we are is a seemingly undying entity, but we are merely caged in this physical form that is temporary, then there must be a place for our souls to go after our bodies give in to their surroundings, or time. One could argue that our souls aren't immortal entities, but with everything that one person is capable of doing (ie: influencing the world in some way... like socrates... I won't use Jesus as an example because he was here under special circumstances ;P; and for the sake of arguing assuming non belief in God) I just can't believe that death is the end of our actual BEING! That is, however, just the way I see it, others might not feel the same. As this has somewhat changed my view of the world and its inhabitance, I just wanted to share it with everyone cause I think it's a pretty big deal. :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Werribee Zoo

My friend from STA travel (who helped me with my Tassie trip and Alice Springs trip), Laura, took me and another girl she works with to the zoo today! We met up at a place for brekkie then headed to Werribee. We got lucky in that it was a really nice day, a little chilly in the wind but not bad. It's an open range zoo, so we took a driving tour, then walked around to see the lions, cheetah, hippos... I won't describe much, I'll just put up some pics. :) We ate lunch then went to look at this mansion that's also there, but we didn't want to pay the $8 admission so drove back to Geelong then got ice cream. :) It was a good day. :)

update #2

On Thursday night I went out to the Rock n' Roll themed party with my swimming team, I had to leave my bag at the apartment that they were renting (just until Sat morning) so that meant that I had to spend the night there, which was more convenient anyway (the last bus is at 12:05 AM on weekdays). It was ok, fun enough. :) I only got one drink cause it was fricking $8.50!!! I can't justify paying $7 for a return ticket to Melbourne from Geelong and $8.50 for a drink! Anyway, a Monash Uni swimmer tried to kiss me, that was interesting. We were all pretty stuffed so went home at around 1:00, but the other girl swimmers came trickling back to the apartment between 1 and 3, so didn't get to sleep until around 3 AM. It was really funny though, one of the guy swimmers came in and I introduced myself and he said "NO WAY, THEE CASSIE IS IN OUR APARTMENT?? No offense but didn't you come in last in every event? It's funny that you're like the worst swimmer and Belinda is like the best and you're best friends." (we're just friends ;P). I thought it was so funny, I really didn't mind. :P I knew I was going to be crap because I hadn't been on swim team for 8 years and only got to practice for like a month, and even then only now and then. I actually didn't learn much good technique until the day before we raced from Bel and Shane (team members). I just thought it was hilarious that I was famous for being the slowest swimmer. ;P I am kind of proud of that in a strange way. ;P Anyway, we, for some reason, all started waking up at 8 AM, so I showered and got ready then left them and took the tram to the city centre. The Dream Festival was starting that day (Friday) so I decided to go take a gander. It's on the bank of the Yarra River, and it's a bunch of art work with dreams being the theme. I got some brekkie then had a look, they were still getting set up a bit, so it was neat but didn't have the atmosphere. It would be really cool to go back at night (it's all lit up and have bands...) but I'm not going to go to Melbourne just for that. Here're some pics from there.

I then decided to go to the Queen Victoria Market cause I've been wanting to for a while, to do some souvenir shopping. I got almost everything I needed/ wanted to get for people, and I even found a few things for myself. :P The most exciting thing is that I GOT A DIDGERIDOO!! That was the one thing that I really wanted to get for myself here, and I got an amazing offer!! I have been looking at them for a long time but it's hard to find authentic ones (made out of gum wood and carved out by termites, then painted by aboriginals) that don't cost HEAPS! The sales man was really nice and he made me some awesome offers as I got a few other things there as well. But anyway, the one I got was completely authentic, and has a beautiful hand-painted design! Ones like the one I got usually run about $400, and he said he sells them on the weekend for around $200, but I got it for a mere $100!!!! I thought I was for sure going to have to spend at $200 on a decent one, and as I wasn't willing to go much over $200 for one I was a bit worried that I wasn't going to find one that I REALLY liked, but I got lucky!! Yay for the Victoria Market!!
Here are some pics. The story is that there are two kangaroos protecting the water holes (the little circles) and day and night are coming together in the centre. At the bottom end is a circle of hunters around a camp fire with their spears and boomerangs. On the back of the didgeridoo are kangaroo tracks. :)

I have been practicing a bit and am already better than I was a few days ago. :) I mainly need to work on the circular breathing, I have the concept, but it's not easy!

Friday, October 3, 2008

update #1

I don't know if I'll be able to fit all of this update into one readable post, but we'll see; I'll try to make it relatively short. :) Siddhant had his (late) birthday feast on Thursday and so we all went and had Indian food (I of course had too much cause it was so yummy) and then went to a club for a while.

A guy offered to buy me a drink. ;P I took it cause hey, it was a free drink (don't worry, I was careful). ;P I told David about it, I thought it was funny. :) Anyway, we got back at about 3 AM and I was going down to the waterfront at 6:00 cause Muffin Break was down there giving away free muffins and coffee cause of the footy again. This time it was a big shindig, the Today show (based in Syndey... the equivalent of our Today show in NY) was there. I got to be on TV again, but just in a crowd. Anyway, so I just stayed awake until I had to take the bus down there. I didn't have to go, but I figured it was a once in a lifetime thing. I was completely buggered! I got a picture with Richard something... he's on the Today show in LA and is on the Aussie version of Home Makover (Domestic Blitz)... he's American and probably very gay. :) Anyway, here's the pic of me and him, maybe someone will recognize him, although I never heard of him till I came here. :)

I only spent about an hour there then went home and slept until 2:00, worked out then went to work at 5:30. On Wednesday we got our uniforms for swimming (the social jacket anyway), but we didn't get all of our stuff yet, it was late coming in. I ended up not going to the opening ceremony cause I got sick and decided it better to stay home as I hadn't been getting much sleep lately and that's most likely the reason I got sick. Belinda didn't go either and I'm not sure about the other two swimmers. I went into Melbourne on Monday though and had a practice session with them, so that was good, I learned a few pointers on how to do the strokes that I didn't know. I knew I was going to be total crap, but was willing to deal with that. :) Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we swam, on the first day I finished last in one race, was disqualified for taking too long in another and didn't finish the 200 free because by the time I was at the one end on the third lap everyone else had finished so just decided to get out than make everyone wait for me. That gave me a feeling for what I could and couldn't do, which I really had no idea about before, so over the next two days I scratched two events, the 400 free and 800 free... definitely couldn't do those!!! On Wednesday and Thursday I walked over to where the ultimate Frisbee players were playing in Albert Park (just about 10 min walk from the Aquatic Centre where I was swimming). They are all really cool people! I almost felt more like part of their team than my swim team (that's mostly because I can relate to them more, they actually play as a team whereas swimming is individual, and they were larger ;P). On Thursday I wore their homemade mascot uniform to cheer them on, they are the Deakin Cheese Graters, so they had a big cardboard cheese grater for a mascot. :P I think they were the only team with a mascot. ;P

To be continued...