Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tramps like us, baby, We Were Born To Run

Since I'm all about doing things that scare me these days I decided to sign up for a 10k.  Not scary for some, absolutely terrifying for me. You see I have a secret that is not very secretive if you know anything about me.  I hate running.  I really do.  I think running is good for sports and getting away from things you don't want to be around.  Yet here I am.  Running all of the time. Tell that to my 16-year-old self and I think I would have laughed you out of the room.

The race is now six weeks out so I have started on the official training regimen to get prepared.  It's a Nike race so part of the deal was that I got new shoes.  Boy, what a difference that makes.  They have set up a little store in Ultimo right near Central Station for you to come in and get your gait analyzed.  I've done this before at Fleet Feet in Nashville but for whatever reason this time it seemed to work better.  I started training in my old shoes and had my typical problem of shin splints.  Now with new shoes, no shin splints.  I didn't even think that was possible!  Hooray!  I'm not just an out of shape freak of nature.  Now I'm just a chick with big hips that's very popular in certain areas of Europe and South America.  Seriously,  birthing hips are apparently a big turn on in some sections of the world.  Anyway...

Now I am following what my computer tells me to do.  Since I am a total nerd I will tell you that this would not be at all enjoyable if not for my Nike+ app that keeps track of my workouts.  I'm not even getting paid to say this!  But seriously Nike, if you want to I wouldn't say no.

Anyway, I downloaded the free app on my phone and through GPS it tracks my pace, elevation, distance, etc. and automagically updates it to my computer.  Looking at the data is way more enjoyable to me than the actual running so far so it's motivation for me to keep going.  Whatever it takes.

Plus, I think it's easier to run when I don't know where I'm going.  I just run and then try to figure out a way to get back to my apartment.  Don't worry.  Our new RoadID's are in the mail so if something happens they will know who I am and know that I need more cowbell.  At least, that's what I put on my ID badge.  Figured I'd make the first responders laugh so they were more motivated to save me.  Once again, not even being paid to endorse!  But check these out!

I might even start going to the We Run Syd running group that runs around the CBD on Monday nights.  Basically because if I go five times I get a free shirt.  Somebody has finally figured out what motivates me!

So, in May, I will be running in the Nike She Runs The Night 10k in Centennial Park!  Wish me luck. It's a women-only race that has three divisions.  Cheetah is in it to win it, Lioness is in it for a personal best and Tigress is in it to finish it.  I'm a full-fledged Tigress and I'm sure you might be hearing again about my training.  Sorry to all of you reading this in a frigid North American spring but it it still hot right now.  I sweat more in this country than I did in Nashville.  Go figure!  Maybe I can send some warmth your way!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Things that make me go hmmm...

Things that make me go hmmm...
The Crosswalk button.  The magic button you hit to let the lights know there is a person there that wants to cross the street.  Do we really know that it's connected to anything?  It's a total faith thing where we hit it just because but we have no actual idea of knowing if there is any correlation to the light changing.

I don't know if I'm more fascinated with people who see me hit it or the people that don't.  For example, everyone seems to have a ritual when you come to the crosswalk.  I usually make my hand into a fist and hit the button twice just in case it doesn't register my first hit.  My thought is that this will save my fingertips from extreme germs but then I immediately pick up my phone which probably has way more germs anyway. Oh well.

So, I punch it twice. Sometimes in a fake ninja stance just to see if I can make people look twice.  Then inevitably there is someone who has already seen me do this and still they come up and hit it themselves.   Why do we do this?  What are we thinking?  Do we think that it's cumulative?  That the magic button is recording how many pushes to see how many people are waiting to cross?  Like there is a little creature inside saying, "Wow, the button has been pushed ten times.  I'd better change the flow of traffic to let this mass of people cross!" I'm pretty sure that's not how it works.

Then you have the people who haven't seen me hit it but they come up and hit it themselves.  Do they think I'm lazy?  That I haven't, in fact, hit the button and have just decided to tempt fate and stand and wait to see if the light changes?  This whole thing is very intriguing to me.  More research will definitely have to be done.

Paw Paw = Papaya

Things I never thought I would miss:
Shopping carts.  Here in Australia all four wheels spin as opposed to the U.S. where only the front two spin and the back are firmly facing forward.  Never thought about that, did you?  Yeah, well I think about it every time I go to the store.  It has taken me this long to be able to turn down an aisle without hitting the person in front of me.  Plus, it takes all of my weight in just the right position to do it otherwise my knees start killing me.  Crazytown.  It's kind of cool to have in certain situations but for the most part it just drives me batty!

"Extreme" spice, sour, sweet, tart, etc.  For some reason Australians don't seem to like really spicy food.  When you go to a Thai restaurant, for example, and order something that says it's spicy it would be mildly spicy in the U.S.  They do this because they know most people ordering don't really like spicy food. At least that's what the lady at the restaurant said.   Since there are virtually no real Mexican restaurants all of their "Mexican" food is super mild.  At least we found a huge bottle of Tabasco at Costco otherwise I think my husband would go crazy.

I got some sour bears the other day at the store and they are about a tenth the sourness of Sour Patch Kids.  Just a little sour.  Just a little spicy.  No idea why.

Now that's some fresh honey! 

Classic music being played in restaurants.  Australia is like Europe in that they have a love and fascination with dance music.  House, techno, ambient, dub, electro, trance, ugh. I actually like dance music...when I'm dancing.  Call me a purist but when I'm eating I want to hear something kinda mellow.

Play something sweet. Play something mellow. Play something I can sink my teeth in like Jello. I can't tell you how overjoyed I was the other night when the Thai restaurant was playing some kind of Asian Elevator Music of cover songs such as "Like a Virgin" and "With Or Without You".  It was amazing.  And funny.  And I will totally go back there to eat again! are McDonald's!  The entire restaurant IS a taste of America.

Things I think are super cool:
Waterproof Money.  Yes, the money is plastic and waterproof!  How brilliant is this?  It makes it harder to counterfeit and you can accidentally put it through the wash.  Plus, each bill is smaller than the other according to the equivalent amount of money AND it's a different color.  Also, almost all of them feature a woman on one side and a man on the other.  Talk about promoting an equal society.

Money, money, money

Tradies (Aussie equivalent of a tradesman) all wear bright neon.  So, basically it means that blue collar workers are neon collar workers.  You can easily see them working on construction, roads, and well, let's face it, anywhere.  It makes me smile almost every time I see it.  No explanation for why it pleases me this much but apparently I really love neon.  It's funny.  Next I want to see all cashiers wearing hypercolor shirts.  Wouldn't that make your day?!

Let's play "Spot the tradie"!  It's not hard these days...

Meat Pies.  Even though this is also a British food, Aussies have made them their own.  If there was one "Aussie" food staple I think I would have to say it's a meat pie.  They even give them to you on domestic flights as a snack.  I absolutely love them.  But then again my favorite food is meat and potatoes.  I'm an Eastern Oregon girl after all. They have a food chain called Pie Face.  I love them.  They just opened a couple stores in New York City and I hope they do well because I would love to be able to eat them when I'm back in the States.

It's a different pie face according to what you order.  This is Steak and Peppercorn. Yum!

Only use what you need.  This may be changing slightly as outside influences continue to creep in but for the most part people seem to be in the mindset of only buying and using what they need.  Maybe because it's just a huge island but they are very aware of water consumption.  I think they have campaigned for this for a while now and it seems to have worked.  I am also keenly aware of when I should do laundry or the dishes or take showers as you get charged different rates for when you use energy.

On weekdays, peak time is 2:00pm - 8:00pm,  Shoulder time is 7:00am - 2:00pm and 8:00pm - 10:00pm.  The rest is off-peak and on the weekends the day is shoulder and the night is off-peak.  This not only makes you aware of when you are using energy and gas it also makes me do the dishes less, wait to do laundry until it's a full load, etc.  Stuff that I tried doing in the U.S. but didn't always succeed.  Amazing what the potential of saving money will do.

We also live in an energy efficient apartment with led lights and other power saving devices.  In Australia, the power is at 220/240 volts instead of the standard in the United States which is 120 volts.  This means that you also have a switch at the wall where you can shut off the outlet for safety reasons.  I love this!  We are talking about the people that started Earth Hour after all.

Switch at the wall.  Very cool!

They do exist. 

I think this is where all nightmares begin.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Want to get paid to live in Australia?

Hey everybody!

Want the best job in the world?  Well, it's now available again.  Tourism Australia has just opened six more positions to be things such as Chief Funster, Taste Master, Wildlife Caretaker, Outback Adventurer, Lifestyle Photographer, and Park Ranger.  You get paid $100,000 for six months and get to travel for free within Australia.  What are you waiting for?

Check out this video and then apply!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sydney Mardi Gras 2013

I was actually meaning to write a post on my adventures at the Sydney Mardi Gras but now it seems more pertinent than ever.  First of all, I’m not sure if everyone has seen the video floating around the Internet of the man being arrested and from the looks of it being brutalized by the police.  I would say that all of us should be quick not to judge any video without knowing all of the facts behind it.  That being said, this looks horrible and is the worst case scenario for Sydney tourism.  I am not going to post the video here but if you are interested it just takes a quick search and you will find it. Trial by social media is not justice so I will leave that to the authorities and hope that the truth will come to light.

I think this is one of the safest big cities I have ever been.  Of course, no city is completely safe.  But my husband and I attended the Mardi Gras parade and never saw anything like what was on the video.  Only love and acceptance and I think Sydney is one of the most open, accepting cities in the world.  I see more gay male couples here than I ever have in New York City.  Plus, better weather.  No wonder they come from all over to live here.   

Now a little background.  The Sydney Mardi Gras was celebrating its 35th parade this year advocating gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, queer and intersex pride.  It equals the best people watching on the planet.  It is a very uplifting event that encourages everyone, it's a family event, to respect everyone else regardless of their sexual preferences.  I saw older couples, young kids, gay men, straight men, lady boys, lesbians, etc. all together enjoying the parade.  Over 10,000 participants and over 125,000 people lining the parade to watch make it the largest parade of its kind in the world!

Apparently, the young man in the video tickled a random woman and then proceeded to swear and kick at officers when he was being apprehended.  The policeman in the video took offense and put him on the ground. Of course, somebody was filming.  Today a new video has come to light showing the events leading up to the incident.  It clearly shows the kid resisting and being belligerent. 

If the policeman in question did target this young man because he was gay then he needs to be punished.  It looks to be one rogue police officer but there was at least one other incident that night.  Policemen here have to deal with seriously intoxicated people on a daily basis and I’m sure that can wear on you after time.  Hopefully, they have things in place to deal with this before it comes out in violence. It should be said that police were called in for extra patrol from all parts of the city.  The policeman in question is from the suburb of Parramatta.  Parramatta is one of the most dangerous areas of Sydney and is the most likely to have guns and violence.  Not sure if this plays a factor but I think it should be noted.

But, I will choose to remember the proud policemen that were marching in the parade instead of this incident and I hope you do too. 

There were companies, political parties, firemen, policemen, lifeguards, ambulance drivers, gay and straight allies, suicide prevention hot lines, churches, grammar schools (Yes, I'm looking at you Macquarie Grammar School. Well done!) all marching and/or dancing in the name of love.  I saw too many men that look much better than me as ladies not to mention lady boys.  Some were absolutely gorgeous!   In front of the transsexual float was a person talking into a wireless mic.  They don't identify themselves as men but don't see themselves as ladies either.  Simply fascinating to me.  It must be hard enough without people disrespecting you at every turn.  I have no idea what that would be like. 

It is too bad that this celebration will now most likely be remembered around the world for a police brutality video.  People stood in the rain to support and watch the parade and its participants.  It was an impressive sight.  I can’t wait for next year!

Hope you enjoy the pictures! It was hard to get good pictures with my phone at night. 
Here is my video to show you a little of the parade.

Dykes on Bikes kick off the parade and each have a different color headlight from the rainbow

The 78'ers!  The first marchers and organizers of the parade.

The First Australians (Aboriginal & Torres Islander peoples)

First year members of military were allowed to march in uniform.  It was impressive!

Awesome float!  They had people on gurney's being "brought to life" by the Ambulance workers/dancers

Sydney Queer Atheists win for most creative.  They celebrate the Higgs-Boson particle by each representing a particle themselves.  They all come together in the middle and boom!  They all separate and float around the parade. Clever!

That's Sydney's Lord Mayor, Clover Moore behind that flag.  Can't you tell?

Every one seemed to be having their own parties in each apartment along the route

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

If I Could Turn Back Time. Wait I can, it’s called Daylight Saving Time!

My friend, Tristan had a very important question for me this week.  Does Australia observe Daylight Saving Time?  I have to admit I had no clue so I had to look it up.  What did we do before the Internet?  Oh yeah, the library.  Ugh, books are so heavy and you have to like read them and stuff. I’m obviously kidding but I digress.

Modern society operates on some kind of standard time not solar time.  This is why school starts at 8AM every day regardless of it being light outside or not.  Yes, I know some schools start earlier than that but this is just crazy and I’m not going to acknowledge our overachieving society that doesn’t allow our kids to sleep in.  But once again, I digress.  Most of the world does not recognize Daylight Saving Time (DST).  However, most western cultures do so that means everywhere I have ever lived; including Australia.  There is a catch though.  Since we are in the Southern Hemisphere we are not going into Spring like America.  Nope, we are falling back.  Crazy, right?  

All of my life I have heard that DST was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin, that crazy, inventing, drinking, philandering founding father.  Not true.  What he actually suggested was that Parisians (he was living in France at the time) save their candles by waking up earlier and doing more stuff in the morning.  Yeah, that’s kinda like DST but Franklin did not start it in America.

Modern DST was actually first proposed by a Kiwi!  George Vernon Hudson was an entomologist in New Zealand and he presented a paper proposing a two-hour daylight-saving shift throughout New Zealand. This was so he could have more time after work to collect more insects.  It made its way to Parliament and boom, DST starts in 1908.  Germany started in 1916 and Britain soon followed suit. The United States finally adopted it in 1918.  War changes everything, even time itself!
Can't make this stuff up

There is no real standard for countries to use DST.  This means that Arizona and Hawaii just say no.  Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, all don’t use DST. Plus, since we arbitrarily choose that in the U.S. you set your clocks back at 2:00AM this means that good ol’ Mountain Standard (I call it the forgotten time zone.  Or the smart time zone since TV tells everyone else when their program starts but never MST.  Hmmm?  Too much digressing today) Anyway, MST can be equal to or two hours ahead of Pacific Time depending on the time of year.  The magic hour.  I was always a little scared of the magic hour when playing music.  Best to get your schedule up front from the club owner so as not to get into a awkward conversation at the end of the night.  What do you mean we have to play an extra hour?  That’s not how this works!! Greedy club owners.

Some areas don’t even use one full hour.  Australia’s Lord Howe Island has decided it will just change on a half-hour shift. What? Doesn’t this all just seem like total chaos?  No wonder we all can’t agree on peace.  We can’t even agree on a standard time.
Lord Howe Island, Australia
courtesy of

Okay, so enough history, now I will really blow your mind. Only part of Australia observes DST but it’s the areas with the most people.  BUT, we don’t change our clocks until April 7th this year.  First weekend in April and first weekend in October, always.  Well, since 2007 anyway.   Europe is the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October. The United States is the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November.  In fact, all around the world even though most western societies observe DST, we all change it at different times.  

I feel like I’m Doctor Who now bending all space and time to my will. I mean, I am most likely writing this in your future.  Unless you are in Australia, I'm a day ahead of you.  Time travel is so legit.  

So, basically all of this means is that for the month of March and the month of October I will be even more confused on what time it is back home.  Thank God for Apps on the iPhone.