Matthew Ford’s Infernal Blog

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Archive for the 'Australia' Category

Trip to Maroochydore

We went to Maroochydore, which is a beach town up the Sunshine Coast, about 1.5 hours’ drive north from our Brisbane home. We stayed at the Sebel, a wonderful, new hotel which was both lush and affordable! I surfed, Dylan boogie-boarded, Kat sunbaked. (Kira was in the loving care of Dee back home.) We had a great weekend away. Some pictures of the trip, and Dylan’s 14th birthday, are now in the Flickr photostream.

Australian cliche: Kookaburra tries to nick my roo from the barbie

In an episode that would be cut from a Baz Luhrmann epic as “too cliched”, last night a kookaburra tried to steal some roasting kangaroo fillets as I cooked them on our barbecue.  Let me say that in a more cliched manner: a kookaburra tried to nick some roo from my barbie. I expect this to be followed by a dingo taking our baby and my being attacked at Bondi Beach by a shark and crocodile, which I fend off with a boomerang.

The  footage below (also at sets the scene: this is a few days before. On Christmas morning, as you do, we put out food for the resident kookaburras. Kat, Dee, and Kira all star; I am the cameraman.

I love Kiwi accents

This is a fun example of a strong New Zealand accent. Our friend Dee reports that the whale sounds like a far Northie, similar to what you’d hear in an area strongly influenced by the Maori accent.

Holiday in Tasmania

(Please sing the above title to the tune of “Holiday in Cambodia” by the Dead Kennedys… we did…) We just got back from a holiday in Tasmania, we three running about in a campervan for a week. It was great! Not sure if we are campervan types but we enjoyed Tassie and enjoyed the freedom of carrying our home around the island. (continued »)

We have become Australian citizens!

Kat and I (and by extension, Dylan) became Australian citizens on Australia Day 2008, which is… come on, you know it! I know it! (In fact I took a citizenship qualification test which made me memorize it forever, along with the wattle and Phar Lap) …January 26th. (continued »)

Trip with buddy Cameron

Me and the family are about to take a little holiday in Tasmania, so what better time to finally post something about my trip in November with my buddy Cameron? (continued »)

Dylan and Kira in the clover

Dylan and Kira and I took a walkabout yesterday in the reserve behind the house. In the big loop formed by Moggill Creek there is a hill which every springtime erupts in thick clover, so Dylan suggested we check it out. It was a li’l slice of heaven, and I was lucky enough to get a really nice picture out of it as well.

Townsville photos

I’ve uploaded a bunch of photos from my and Kat’s weekend trip to Townsville; head to my Flickr site to see many more! This one is from when the tour operator (pictured) on Magnetic Island (near Townsville, Queensland) brought us to a pub that specialized in attracting hordes of rampaging rainbow lorikeets. On his instruction I took a handful of sopping wet bread from a bucket and held it out. “What n–” I started to ask, and was answered by one of most startling and intense experiences of my life. I was instantly set upon, and you really have to be there to understand how overwhelming it is. The color, the claws, the whipping of wind from the wings, the deafening caws in my ear… it was a feast for the senses in the sense that having a cannon full of Chicken Cordon Bleu fired at you is a feast for the senses.

Australia moves closer to allowing stem cell research

It’s quite telling, and a bit sad, that I am categorizing a story about a medical issue as a “news and politics” issue. But that’s the world we live in.

Australia is thankfully tilting in a way different from the USA when it comes to stem cell research. Vigilance is still required, but it’s not bad at the moment. Here is a political excerpt I wish I saw more often: “Both these positions are moral positions and both deserve respect.”

Trip to Uluru

Here are some notes on my trip to Uluru with Dylan, Kat, and her mom Josie. Photos are still in the camera with Kat. They are still vacationing and I am playing the bachelor at home, then I’ll catch up to them again Saturday. (continued »)

Australians are not as uptight about sex

One of the things I love about Australians is that they (can I say “we” yet?) are so much less uptight than the USA about sex. And using sex not in the (IMO) creepy Asian way or the blasé Euro way; it’s fun and lusty and mischievous. Here are a few examples:

  • On the most popular nationwide breakfast news-lite show, they broadcast from a museum that had a whale penis on display. The onsite host and museum staffer played around with it and the studio hosts, both male and female, made a number of naughty jokes about it.
  • The same show frequently has a “joke of the day” which is almost always some kind of dirty joke, read and submitted by both men and women.
  • A big billboard on the way out of the Brisbane airport touting a time-saving parking pass or the like has the tagline, “Slip in and out faster”.
  • A TV commercial for “Titan” brand garage doors: A young man is talking with his dad in the yard standing in front of his garage. He says, “Hey da, you know how I was complaining that my last girlfriend didn’t have a Titan?” Dad nods. “Well, this time I’m going to do interviews.” The young guy talks with a number of sexy girls who are sitting up on his workbench right in front of him while his dad chats up the ones in line. The naughty part is that in the Australian accent, “Titan” sounds the same as “tight one”. So the guy sounded like he was saying to his dad, “You know how I was complaining that my last girlfriend didn’t have a tight one?”

Would any of this happen in on USA broadcast TV? I think not.

The house is a lock

The building inspections and financing went through so it’s a lock… the house will be all ours on July 18. It was great to be back in the house again as we met the inspectors. I just love it more and more. I’ll put up pictures before long.

The termite inspector was a great Aussie bloke. He probably enjoyed horrifying us with tales of termite persistence. But he basically said “That’s Queensland, you got termites. It’s not our land, it’s theirs. We’re just building houses on it. If it weren’t for termites this place would be 100 foot deep in dead wood and we’d have no place to stand.” He’s been bitten by redbacks 42 times and “I’m still here” so I think he has a pretty relaxed attitude about annoying insects.

Thanksgiving in Australia

Happy Thanksgiving! There is nothing like it here in Oz and people regard it as a bit bizarre. Typical conversation: “So, what do you do for Thanksgiving?” “Well, eat. And talk.” “Are there presents?” “Nope… just food…” “Are there songs or a ceremony or something?” “Um, well I guess you can say grace or something before you eat…” I know that the best part of Thanksgiving is getting family and friends together, and that it is in that way a great holiday, one of my favorites. But I also realize that here it seems that friends and families already often get together for dinner and families live close enough to often do that, so a special occasion to get together is not so important here. Also, it’s really hot baking that turkey in the Aussie summer. :)

Dylan back from camp

Dylan got back from his school’s camp out at the reservoir and was delightfully telling us about it last night. He loved it and did lots of fun outdoorsy things. He got a lot of living in the wild advice from an Aboriginal man who showed them plants to chew and ways to learn about animals, and Dylan even broke open a termite nest and ate some live termites! He said they tasted like peanuts. It was wonderful to hear and it’s so good to have him back.

The Lions Lost!

Went to Greg’s to watch the AFL Grand Final (Australian rules football league– a very entertaining game played on a huge circular field). What a close game! Shockingly the Brisbane Lions lost and thereby failed to tie the record for most grand final wins in a row (4).

Learning to say “She’ll be right”

I was getting too uptight about work. I had to remind myself recently that I came to Oz not in pursuit of superachievement, to work in the most perfect environment, or to fit into a perfect team. If I’d wanted to pursue those things I’d have stayed in the states. I came here to: learn about how to lead a game development team; make my mark on a company; and most importantly, to learn to mellow out a bit. All those things are still right here for me. I took this opportunity to move to Oz because the time was right for me and my family to go on this adventure. I came here to enjoy life the way Aussies do. I came here to internalize the attitude I saw when I worked in Sydney and which exists here in Brisbane too: that though work is important and we all want to do a good job, work is not everything. It’s not cool to get too uptight here. You aren’t measured entirely by the height of your achievement or profit. You don’t get anywhere by stressing out, by being bullish, by fighting the dominance game which is endemic to the US cities where I’ve worked. If there’s one thing I really want to learn by living and working here, it is to learn how to say: She’ll be right. Wish me luck. :)

Beach, and Ekka Day

It was a holiday on Wednesday. After a bit of indecision and regrets about having to leave the dog behind we accepted Robin and Paul’s invitation to go out to Bribie Island. I’m glad we did. We caravanned to a 4×4 lot and took Robin’s 4-wheeler up the beach, with me, Kat, Dylan, Robin, Penny, and their son Toby. It was exciting and bouncy, and a bit scary to be plunging up and down the sand rises next to the crashing waves. (continued »)

Fahrenheit 9/11

Good god, another blog entry on this movie, who needs it? But at least I have the somewhat unique experience of being a Yank seeing it in Oz. Went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 today with Kat. I think was quite good and also depressing, it exposes so much misery and wrongness. I can’t believe that Bush is not already ridden out on a rail; the fact that this election is looking like it will be close is horrifying. Even if Kerry wins, it will not be by much it appears, and what does that say about the American people, that they have not turned against Bush and his cronies?

Here is Oz there is a great deal of concern about the direction the USA is going, (continued »)

Australia 3rd on UN index

Australia is #3 on the UN living index. I’m interested in this because I think a lot about social progress and how to support my country (now Oz) in improving the quality of life for all its residents. At the same time I want to do what I can to bring up those countries on the bottom, for which there is no good excuse to let them languish there. Humanity will not be truly on its way to happiness and stability until its most unfortunate members are lifted up.

Bledisloe Cup

Kat and Dylan and I went to Robin and Penny’s house to see the first series in the Bledisloe Cup, which is a rugby match between New Zealand and Australia. We went for Australia while Robin went for NZ. It was great fun and though Wallabies lost to the All Blacks, it was a good match in the cold and wet and I think the next match will be a close one. Robin and Penny live in a nice section of Fig Tree Pocket, near Dylan’s school, and the suburban life was tempting, but I also love living in the city, walking to work, and being near the action.

 (Added 2007: The house we moved to a year or so later was in fact just a few km from Robin’s!)

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