Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Thoughts on 'Straya...One Month Later.

-->G'day Mates!
So, I’ve been in sunny Queensland for just about a month now and I have much to report! I figure the best way to present to you “how things have been” is in the form of a very short book or “novella,” if you will. 

But, before I really get into the meat (or, should I say, beef) of things, I'd like to quell (not quarter quell, just regular quell) a few rumors that have been circling...

First off, I think some of you have assumed that I have moved to the “true” outback. Ya know red, cracked, dry dirt all around. (see image below).

I have included a counter image for you that I took this morning….this is the view from behind my house. It’s quite lush, as you can see.

Secondly, they really do have iPhones here. I mentioned to some of you that I bought a Nokia from 2005 when I first arrived and I think this was widely believed. I do indeed have an iPhone, although Siri and I are not really getting along right now (as per usual).

Okay, now that that's cleared up. I shall take it upon myself to describe to you my first experiences here in Australia land....

Epilogue: A Brief Background

We are currently living on a leased property called “Palmbank”; it’s just outside of a small town called Theodore which is about 35 minutes drive from the Gunthorpe’s property “Tarramba.” The house at Palmbank is interesting, mostly because this entire property is owned by a large mining company. Because “Safety is #1” in the mining industry, a few strange modifications have been made to the house. My favorite is this sign on the outside of the shed behind the house:

I like this because it makes me feel important. I sometimes assemble here by myself, even when there is not an emergency going on. It makes me feel like I could someday be a Safety Officer or even an Incident Commander.

Chapter 1: When Your Skype Boyfriend Becomes Your In-Person Boyfriend

I’m learning a lot about Adam now that we technically “live together.” Namely, he has an unmatched ability to eat pasta. Just the other day he told me he was going to have some leftover pasta for dinner. I assumed this was quite a normal endeavor on his part until he came out of the kitchen with his so called “bowl” of pasta in hand. He literally had the equivalent of an entire bag of pasta in his bowl; it had two fried eggs on top and was smothered in barbecue sauce.  Many of you might be shocked by this and assume that I would have berated him for this odd behavior. On the contrary, my competitive nature has come out in full force and I am now determined to top this gastronomical feat. I feel that the Trex equivalent of such a meal must be an entire box of frosted flakes, topped with 2 fried churros, and smothered in jet puffed marshmallow cream. 

I think adam is learning a lot about me as well. I have surprised him with both my obsessive list making and my ability to burp louder than most truck drivers.

Chapter 2: Small Hurdles, Big Pay Off

There are certainly little things that are frustrating here. Like, for example, it’s much more common to use a clothesline than a dryer. Unfortunately, our spinny clothesline thing is built for someone about 10 inches taller than me*. It’s quite a strain on my already fragile lower back to reach that high to hang up a pair of heavy, wet jeans (I know, there’s violins playing for me in the background as I type this).  When I am having trouble accepting things like this, I’ll usually turn to Adam and say in a very accusatory tone; “Why do you people do this that way”. I.E:  “Adam, why don’t you people have neon open/closed signs on your storefronts so it’s more OBVIOUS if a place is open or not, ugh.”  I’ve heard that assimilation can be a “slow and continual process” but I’m confident I’ll get there.

Despite all this, it’s been a glorious thing to finally just hang out with Adam without the threat of departure looming over our heads.

*Since original publication Adam has shown me that the clothesline thing is actually adjustable and he has thus [lowered] it for me.

Chapter 3: A Dog Missed, A Pet Export Company Scorned

Stella has yet to arrive here. Poor mother Jeanne has been stuck in Santa Barbara caring for her and trying to navigate the overly complicated world of exporting a pet to Australia. Her date of departure was delayed by 4 weeks due to a missed vaccination booster. I don’t want to name any names, especially pending litigation, but it was most definitely the fault of the Pet Export Company based in Brisbane. Her absence is very much noticed! But, fortunately, I’ve finally mated up (that's Australian for "become friends") with little Archibald Gunthorpe (who was once, in fact, named “World’s Best” French Poodle [by online survey])

Chapter 4: Tarramba Tours

We have had not one but TWO sets of visitors since my arrival in early April. My intense popularity overwhelms me at times. First we welcomed Lidia and Brian who made an inland detour to Palmbank and Tarramba during their 2 week honeymoon vacation. It was wonderful having them here and I hope they thoroughly enjoyed their Tarramba Tour. Especially because we offered them “mates rates” and only charged $650/day for their Tour instead of the standard $1100. Last week we had the pleasure of spending a few days with Uncle Judy and Barb during their bird/fish/surf tour of Australia. We had a lovely time with them, of course, although there were some red flags that were raised (this brings me to Chapter 5…)

Chapter 5: Underground Protein-Powder Trading Ring

A few weeks before I left for Australia I visited Cousin Grace at her homestead in Mexico City. The day before my departure I received an email from Cousin Pete with a list of things I should try to take to Mexico for Grace. One of the items on the list was Whey Protein Powder. Thus, I found it interesting when Uncle Judy asked if he could unload a few of his things at our house as they wouldn’t have room for some of the items they had picked up on their long journey. Of course this was not a problem with me whatsoever but I did find it strangely coincidental when one of those items happened to be a large bottle of Whey Protein Powder. I’m wondering what the next move is here? Sister Annie, don’t be surprised if you get a call from Luis asking if it’s okay if he ships some protein powder to you and if you wouldn’t mind driving it up to Ruth in San Francisco.

Chapter 6: Enchilation

Things are getting a bit chilly here in Theodore. Our large house doesn't warm up too well, unfortunately. I don't think it's very well insulated. Or, as they pronounce it here, “enchilated”. To me it seems like enchilation would involve covering our walls with 1000's of cheese enchiladas. Although this might keep us warm, I think it would make me constantly hungry if I was always smelling enchiladas. And I don't know what the etiquette is regarding eating the enchiladas directly off the walls.

Chapter 7: Fresh Cut Grass

Today I had my first experience "mowing a lawn." I actually quite enjoyed it. I was on the sort of lawn mower that you sit on top of rather than push. I believe the lay people call this a "ride-on mower." It's sort of like a very slow motion Disneyland ride that's fun and productive at the same time. Also, I'm happy to report that I remain injury free after a 2 hour long lawn-mowing stint. This is quite unlike the Weed-Wacking Disaster of 2005 which left me with scars and burns all over my hands. (Well, actually that might be a bit of an exaggeration...I have one small scar on the tip of my finger from that fateful day. Incidentally, my hands and arms are indeed a bit scarred up, but that's a result of the Dog-Fighting Disaster of 2006).

Prologue: A Reflection of Sorts

I hope this novella has helped improve your understanding of my new life here in Central Queensland. I’m sure there will be plenty more stories to tell and novellas to write. In fact, I’ve already come up with a few titles that I will share with you now…

  • Sheep Rearing for Dummies
  • A Theological Argument For Abstaining from the Consumption of Lamb
  • Why I don’t Eat Animals If They Are Super Cute
  • Developing a working relationship with a working dog
  • Cattle ranching - what to do when you get attached
  • Homemade sausages in a variety of flavors
  • Learning to Muster and Wean in 5 Easy Steps
  • Kangaroos – Not What You Think

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

2014 Trex Winter Games/Trials and Tribulations

I was awoken this morning by my new alarm clock (see video).  After said alarm clock was walked and fed, I headed out on the town to start my day. I was excited and optimistic. And then I was immediately pulled over for driving the wrong way down a one-way street. I was confused and in an “unfamiliar town” (aka Kalispell) so the cop was nice and didn’t give me a ticket. Next, I headed up the road to Big Mountain to go snowboarding and had the great fortune of sighting a baby elk grazing on the side of the road. At first I thought it was a very large mutant deer but, surprisingly, I turned out to be wrong. A bit later on, whilst skiing, I got a little overly excited and hopped on a lift a bit too quickly and got yelled at by the lift lady. I was naturally mortified and vowed to never return to that same lift for the remainder of the day. Unfortunately, my plans were side tracked when I dropped my glove about 30 seconds after being on that lift and had to come right back down to retrieve my lost item. The lift girl that had just yelled at me 10 minutes before was like “slow down this time, girl.” So I awkwardly laughed at her and pretended like it was my first time on a mountain (besides the time when I cruised up with Frodo to get rid of the One Ring). On my way back from snowboarding I had to stop at the orthodontist to pick up a retainer to fix my snaggle tooth. (So I’m finally getting that taken care of, which is good.) After getting my face fixed I headed up Hellroaring Road with Stella in tow for a bit of a snow-shoe. This ended up being more of a “gravel-shoe” but we persevered nonetheless. (I invited Barry Llama along but he graciously declined). As I returned back to my humble Polson abode I encountered my friendly neighbor Larry who, once again, informed me that “YOU HAVE A PACKAGE AT YOUR BACK DOOR” (Larry likes to greet most people in a louder, shouting voice). As usual, the package was from Zappos. I’ll return whatever it is next month. I think it’s a new backpack because I have a weird backpack obsession. I didn’t have time to open it because I was straight out the door after dropping off Stella to head to yoga with Kristin. Before my yoga class started, Kristin (the teacher) was asking me about “moving away” and so we started talking about my plans to head Down Under. There was one other lady in the class, she seemed to be in her late 40’s, and was one of those women that perhaps made poor choices in the past but has now “found herself” and thus knows everything there is to know about life. Upon hearing about my plans to move to Australia to be with my boyfriend, she immediately launched into a horrendous story about her cousin who moved to Australia and had a child with a man there, they have since split up and her cousin is unable to return home with the child because of their immigration laws. She cautioned me to “really be sure I knew what I was doing.” Thanks lady. Anyway, now I’m sitting around, watching “Girls” on HBO, and getting pissed off that one of the characters stole my idea for making a music video re-make to Edie Brickell’s song “What I Am” – I still maintain that my version is superior.

In conclusion, the results of today’s “Winter Games” will be released tomorrow but I’m pretty sure I’ll be taking home at least a silver medal based on today’s performance.

[apologies for the train of thought nature of this post and any glaring grammatical errors…you nose it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, I was trying to "get this out there" as soon as possible] 

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Year in Titles

After an extremely long hiatus I’ve decided to streamline my return to the world of blogging by presenting to you a list of potential book or newspaper article titles that are representative of my year in San Francisco.

Without further ado…
  • Weekends; An Overrated Pastime 
  • Thursdays – The New Saturday
  •  My social life – A Thing of the Past
  •  My Roommate, My Cousin, My Co-Homeowner (will consider abbreviating to “Co-Homo” if short for space on the book cover)
  •  Scootering Vol 1: A Time for Introspection
  • Scootering Vol 2: A Series of Near Misses
  • Scootering (Vol 2, Ch 1): What to Do if You’ve Just Accidentally Gotten on the Freeway
  •  Neighborhood Profiles; Judy Wong of Wong’s Cleaners
  • The Pros and Cons of Having an In-House Band
  • Band Management 101
  • DST,* It’s Just Not For Me
  • Teleportation: No Longer a Thing of the Past
  • SMU*; an Expose in Two Acts
  • Tracy Chase; the Erin Brokovich of SMU
  • Becoming a Successful Tutor (OR, How I Force Underclassmen to Listen to my 35 Minute Diatribe Regarding My Issues with the “Administration”)
  • Nursing school; 12 Months Seems Excessive…Let’s Get This Done in Three
  • The 3 Month ANA Accredited Accelerated BSN Program; A Proposal
  • Conversations Between Kelly and Dawn*: An Observational Reflection
  • One Point Away from an A: My Downward Spiral
  • Become a Morning Person in 12 Steps or Less
  • Accepting That You’re Not a Morning Person and Moving On
  • Cereal: Telltale Signs That You’ve Had Too Many Bowls
  • Cereal: The Essential Vitamin
  • Tanka Dogs: The Essential Mineral
  • It’s Sushi Time! (Co-authored by Annie Maxwell)
  • Hipsters: Enough is Enough
  • Hipsters: The Fixie Bike That Broke the Trex’s Back
  • Fixie Bikes: Best to Just Call it a Single Speed
  • The Squirt Fashioned; A new take on an old drink
  • What to do When Lent Gets in the Way of Your Alcoholism and Sugar Addiction
  • Sugar Addiction: What’s Not to Like?
  • Uncle Judy Comes for a Visit
  • Citizens Against People Pooping in the Middle of the Sidewalk
  • A Visit Home  (Alternate Title: Vacationing in the RV in My Mom’s Driveway)
  • Trans Pacific Relationships: Do’s and Don’ts
  • In-flight Seizures: An Economically Sound Way to Upgrade to Business Class During Long-Haul International Flights
  • Big Choices, New Directions; Searching for Employment during an Economic Recession (written under the pseudonym Stella Chase)
  • Getting Yourself Noticed: The Art of Using Glitter and Scented Perfume on Résumés and Research Posters
  • My Time of Personal Growth and Transformation in the Foggy City (also by Stella Chase)
*DST: Daylight Savings Time
*SMU: Stupid Moronic University
*Imaginary nursing school friends

If anyone is interested in publishing one of these titles, please contact my agent, Stella B. Chase.

Thank you for your time and cooperation!

Friday, February 25, 2011

February’s Contemplations and Ruminations – Part Two

Laughing Out Loud

Question: What should you do when one of your close friends starts using “LOL” in casual text conversation?


Sadly, this question has become very relevant to me in the past week, ever since a fellow compatriot of mine has decided that LOL-ing is the best thing to come around since kettle corn.

For now, I will allow him to remain anonymous. (I will say, however, that his initials contain the letters P, T, and S. Also, he’s one of my cousins. Whoa, I just realized that if this unnamed person married someone with the last name Dillard, his initials would become PTS-D).

This whole debacle started at 3:25PM on March 18th, 2011 with the following conversation:

*please note that "bbming" refers to Blackberry Messaging - I guess it works long distance from Mexico

Despite my blatant disapproval, the next day it continued…

I’m not sure what it is about LOL that bothers me so much. Perhaps it’s the fact that people use it to make potentially serious statements seem ambiguously lighthearted. In a way, it’s a lack of commitment on their part. They’re not sure how the receiver of their message will feel about what they’re saying, so they throw in LOL at the end in case they need to play it off as a joke. E.g: “Susan, I’m head over heels in love with you. LOL!” This way, if Susan is like “WTF??” the entire thing can be brushed aside as a harmless ruse.

I think it also bothers me because it’s not something that I would ever say in normal speech, unlike “Oh my god” and “For your information” and “On my way” all of which are statements that I commonly acronym-ize in my textual conversations. I can’t imagine ever saying “laugh out loud” to someone in a face-to-face conversation. Instead, if someone said something that was actually funny, I would probably just laugh. On the other hand, if someone said something to me that was not really funny but intended it to be funny and I didn’t laugh but said, “laugh out loud” I think that would be pretty confusing for that person (just as this poorly written sentence is probably sort of confusing to you).

Furthermore, when someone LOL’s me via text, I’m often left wondering if they intended it as a command or if they were just describing to me what they were doing. In other words, are you telling me that I should laugh out loud right now or are you letting me know that, after carefully considering what I’ve written, you’ve decided to laugh out loud? How are you even texting and laughing at the same time? Are you doing all this while driving too?? I mean, that’s just dangerous.

If it’s the former, please stop telling me what to do. If it’s the latter, I really don’t care whether or not the people around you can hear you laugh. They probably don’t know what you’re laughing about anyway unless you’ve just read them my really funny text message. In which case, perhaps a more aptly suited acronym would be AGOUALOLAYTMRN, which translates to ‘a group of us are laughing out loud at your text message right now’. But, if you do ever receive this in a text, just be sure they’re not trying to make a reference to famed emergency room nurse, Samantha Agoualolaytm, R.N.

I’ve remained adamant in my requests that this behavior ceases. I’ve tried anger, I’ve tried pleading, I’ve even tried to confront this person using the skills I learned last semester in my interpersonal communications course* (see below). Alas, all of my efforts have been futile and the usage of LOL by this person continues to this day.

*1. Identify the behavior that you need clarification 2. present the person with two definitive reasons that might explain his or her behavior 3. finish your statement with an open-ended question like "is it something else?" to leave them room for further explanation

And so, this blog post is my last resort. You leave me no choice but to humiliate you via public forum. I do apologize to Grace as she is an innocent bystander. Although, apparently she LOL’s a lot via BBM, FYI…so perhaps she’s actually not that innocent. Now that my voice has been heard, I see this playing out in one of two ways. Either the perpetrator gets the hint and stops LOL-ing me. Or, I’ve just made my last mistake and in the months to come I’ll find myself being awoken by 3AM text messages that just say “LOL, LOL, LOL.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

IMPORTANT MESSAGE (sorry to disrupt tracy's 10 part february series)

A few of you have expressed concern as a result of most recent post. I want to state, for the record, that I have not been attacked by a mountain lion. I am safe.

On an unrelated note, I just found out that one of my acquaintances and life-long enemies (an unemployed Capricorn named M. Nagelmann) has the same amount of blog followers as I do. This makes me feel frustrated and apprehensive.

Please accept my most sincere and grateful request that you follow my blog if you don't already. Let's get these numbers up for the 2011 campaign*).

Thank you,

*more on this to follow

Hi there! Welcome and thank you for stopping by…do you have any questions?

I often find that February is a month of deep self-reflection for me. I thought it would be pertinent and informative for the public-at-large if I documented some of this month’s ponderings.

And so, without further ado, I would like to present:

February’s Contemplations and Ruminations – a 10 part series”

This series will be presented here in full and can also be seen in its edited form at the Santa Barbara Museum of Modern Art from February 28th to March 7th. Opening night gala and red carpet begins @7PM, Feb 28. For more information please visit Press contact: Mary Stuartson (805) 453-2675.

Part One.

Q: Will I be ready and able to defend myself when I am attacked by a mountain lion?

For those of you that are avid hikers in the Santa Barbara Foothills, you are probably already aware that there is a 95% chance that you are going to encounter and possibly be attacked by a mountain lion at some point in your hiking career. Well, that might not be exactly true, but in public speaking that’s what we call the ‘attention getter.’ Regardless of the actual likelihood of a head to head (or should I say claw to jugular) fight with a puma, I think it’s important that you know some basic mountain lion facts and defense tips.

The absolute most important thing I can say to you is: always be aware of your surroundings. When mountain lions attack, they are usually coming at you from behind. They are often perched up in a tree or waiting for you at a rock outcropping. It is essential that you are always scoping out the trees ahead of you whilst you are on your hike (this can be done by utilizing Dan Beckman’s 3-point tree scoping triangulation technique). But looking ahead might not be enough, when I’m hiking I usually take 100 steps facing forward and then turn around and back-peddle for 25 steps. This allows me to take in a 360-degree view of the terrain I am about to cover as well as the trail behind me. Remember, a mountain lion attack is not the same as a velociraptor attack which involves 3 velociraptors (one coming at you from the front and the other two on either flank) and is basically impossible to survive. When you’re facing a mountain lion, it’s going to be a one on one type scenario that you just might be able to pull off if you’ve got your wits about you.

If you are unable to bring your pitbull with you because she is recovering from budget-breaking knee surgery, please do consider carrying a knife (a good example of an appropriate knife is pictured above). The entire time you’re hiking you should visualize yourself being attacked by a mountain lion in a variety of situations so that you are as prepared as possible. For example, let’s say you’ve just turned a blind curve on Tunnel Trail and you’re hiking on a 25º angle when all of the sudden you’re pummeled into by a 112-pound female cougar. She has pounced on you from a perch in a tree 10 meters behind you and 5 meters above you, moving at a velocity of 9.2 m/s and, by my calculations, hitting you with about 4800 lbs of force. In this case, you will most likely be knocked off of your feet and you and the mountain lion will roll and tumble for about 25 meters. These are the most crucial moments in terms of chances of survival! Because you’ve been visualizing this exact scenario, you know that you have 2 seconds to reach into your pocket, pop open your knife, and try to do as much damage as possible. Once the fight goes past this point, it’s really just up to the stars whether or not you’ll make it down the mountain alive.

By no means is it my intention to frighten you or deter you from enjoying a leisurely hike on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I’m just trying to turn you into a more aware consumer of nature. As the boy scouts always say: “Always be prepared when hiking alone in the Santa Barbara foothills – AKA the Northern Pacific Man-Eating Cougar Greenbelt.” (Their other lesser know motto is: "For christ sake, we should sell cookies too!).

(these tips are adapted from my new book – Basic Mountain Lion Defense Tips, Random House Publishing 2011®)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

THIS IS ONLY A TEST (A fall on top of a fall)

Technical blogging difficulties have caused me to post what some may refer to as a "test blog." Please do excuse any inconvenience.

Incidentally, I fell off my bike today while trying to ride up a steep hill (I was clicked in and got trapped between the cement and my bike...of course I couldn't get up and there was a car coming). This happened to me once before in front of Los Banos. Compton was there, she saw it.