Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ew, Dead Blog

Oh my god I totally have to clean up this thing.  Jeezus, look what happens when you leave your blog unattended for five years!

Um, stay tuned... they may be developments...


maybe...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Achievement Unlocked: Mural Installed

Oh, just in case you thought the blog was just a bunch of boring travelogues and pretty pictures, here's... um... a bunch of pretty pictures!

I've been meaning to post this for a while; way back when I started the blog, I mentioned that I was helping finish off a couple of murals started by the mural painting group I used to work for. Well, one of the murals found an installation site (after the original site was no longer available) and is now ready for the world to see!

Okay, so it's not perfectly flat, in fact they had to fold it over the corner of a building to make it fit. But hey, everybody's doing 3D these days, why not a mural?
And there's a tree in the way, but it's not completely obstructed...
And there's a fence around it too... and hardly anyone goes around that side of the building -

Oh, never mind. It's UP, it's FINISHED, and it LOOKS GREAT dammit!



This mural, if you remember, was the one commissioned by the local Lions Club, to illustrate the history of the Moe-Newborough region. It's meant to look like a big wall full of historical photographs and memorabilia. (On one of the panels, you can actually see a picture of people looking at the actual wall!)



Depicted in front of the photo wall are a number of antique items, such as oil-burning lamps, clocks, photo frames and radios.



The images depict various parts of the region's history and important local landmarks, many of which no longer exist. There are also antique portraits and vintage advertisements among the displayed items.



The mural also pays tribute to the many social clubs and community groups who have lent aid to the region over the years.



The mural went through many changes and alterations during its creation, including the addition of an extra panel on one end! It was originally to be installed at a totally different site, but the deal fell through, and the mural's fate was in limbo until the current site owner agreed to accept it for permanent display.



Oh, if you want to see it in person, it's located within the Gippsland Heritage Park (formerly Old Gippstown), on the westermost point of Moe, Victoria. Oddly enough, the heritage park is itself represented in the mural; the Gippsland Motor Garage shown in the picture above can also be found inside the park!

To view the rest of the album, click here, and enjoy!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pictures on a Postcard

...Okay, I'm back. Well, I'm being sneaky here - I've been back for the better part of four months, but the new job has taken away my motivation for doing sociable stuff (and that's an excuse I've used before, I know).

I had a good time up in Queensland, even though it wasn't as sunny as it usually is. My Dad and Stepmum commented on how unusually rainy it was while I was there - "It never rains in Collinsville" they said, but...

Anyway, I made it back alive and well. And as promised, here are some pictures to fill you in!


All set for sunny Queensland, in this flattering ensemble. I had fun with the shades, though - the tinted windows and polarised lenses gave everything a weird rainbow-coloured effect...


Welcome to Collinsville - "The Place You Always Return To!" (especially if you live there)
Collinsville's a coal-fed town; the main sources of employment are the nearby coal mine and the power station. Though the power station does use a lot of coal, a lot of it is sent elsewhere via the many (and looong) trains that run through the small town every day.

My Dad and Stepmum are surrounded my animals, both wild and domestic. Here you see their two very friendly and well-behaved dogs.

...Well, at least they were well-behaved while I was there!


They also own about a dozen chickens, three of which I've shown here (the grey rooster in the middle was a real bully!). When they first acquired the property, there were chickens living wild in the trees, but they have since died; this lot is all new.


Everyday at around 3pm, my Dad and Stepmum scatter birdseed for the chickens. The seed also attracts local wild-birds too. Here you see Cockatoos, Galahs and Bronzewings sneaking a bit of a feed!


There were a lot of exotic creatures running around the place, but most of them were shy during the day. I managed to see a few of them (but never got to see a cane toad, though I was told they were annoyingly commonplace).


Left: There were so many geckos running about! The type on the left (hiding behind the lightshade) had skin that was practically see-through, so it had to hide during the day - but after night fell, you'd see about ten or twelve scuttering about on the walls and roof!
Right: I also saw a different type with mottled skin; it was a tiny baby one trying to run out of the rain. By tiny, I mean it was only about 12mm long! Dad picked it up and let it run about on the window screen for a bit.


Left: A carpet snake was hiding in the long grass when it was uncovered by a whipper-snipper. Luckily this type of snake is non-venomous and totally harmless, but it didn't look too happy.
Right: Along with the geckos, night brought out hundreds of green tree frogs, who would cling to the walls and sit on any available surface. Watch your step!


...This huge plant in the front yard was home to this tiny St. Andrew's Cross spider. This spider only had a 2cm legspan, but not only does it sit in an X shape, it also spins an X shape in its web, which helps to attract small insects into the web (and stop larger animals from walking into it)!

My Dad was in the process of building a big verandah around the side of the house. Here are three photos taken from the top landing, showing the view at three times of the day:


...Eventually, it was time to head back home. I had a good time with my family, and was reluctant to leave. Hopefully, I'll be back again soon!


The flight back was fun; unlike the flight up, I managed to get window seats for both legs of the journey. Which of course equals photos:



GOSH THE SKY IS SO PRETTY FROM ABOVE


I managed to sneak another couple of photos of Melbourne as I passed through on the way home. The train line was being worked on that day, so I had to catch a coach halfway home - it wasn't a bad thing, though, because I like driving through the city!

There's some more photos of my trip hidden in the album, but that's pretty much all for now. I had a good time, and I'm hoping my Dad and Stepmum appreciated the company!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Flappa Flappa Flap (or A Short Travel Diary)

4.00am
Woke up.

4.15am
Woke up again. Considered having shower, but realised that I wouldn't have time (should have been better organised yesterday). Only had about 6 hours sleep, after doing a night shift the day before last... stupid idea now!

4.30am
Got dressed, gave my luggage and carry-on a check over, and called a taxi to get to the station. Assured that said taxi would be there in 10 minutes.

4.50am
Taxi has not yet arrived. Worried, because the first train to leave for Melbourne would be going in ten minutes and I would certainly miss it now. Call them again, and assured they would be imminent.

4.55am
Went out and fed the cats, had front door open to hear taxi. Suddenly heard a TOOT! Grabbed my luggage and hopped in, finally on the first leg of my journey.

5.15am
Found out taxi was delayed because their previous call-out suddenly decided to change their itinerary mid-trip, which the driver was unhappy about - so he gave me part of the fare back when we got to the station. I'd missed the first train, but luckily the second train was an express and would get me there around the same time; and my ticket would be good for the entire day.

7.15am
Reached Melbourne, but didn't get to see much out of the window, owing to the short nap I took on the train (was I really that tired?). Also I picked a seat facing the sunrise, so I couldn't see much with this big blazing fireball in my eyes... (Also made photography difficult, which was a shame.)

7.25am
Reached Flinders Street Station, and suppressed the urge to hop off my usual stop. Train left the platform, but sat waiting for a few minutes at the end of the platform for whatever reason trains do that for. At least I got a nice view of the back of the station.

7.30am
Got out at Spencer Street - WAIT, it's Southern Cross Station now. You can tell I don't go this far on the line, can't you?
Anyway, hopped out at a train station I'd never been to before in recent memory, wondering where the airport buses were, and suddenly realised how fricking cold it was here. (I was wearing full-length clothing at this point, because summer's still MIA in Victoria this year.) My teeth chattered as I dragged my suitcase toward the Skybus terminal.

7.45am
En route to the airport via a bright red Skybus. A TV screened something short and lightweight for the 20-minute drive; I wasn't really watching, though I caught the tail end of something about not taking any fluids or liquids on the plane. I remembered all the toiletries I'd brought up with me (toothpaste, deodorant, aloe vera gel) and wondered if I'd need to throw any of it out before I got on the plane...

8.15am
Got to Tullamarine Airport, and looked for the Virgin Blue terminal; realised I was in the Arrivals lounge, not the Departures (which was on the level above). Dragged my suitcase up a flight of stairs, relieved that my second part of the journey was almost over!

8.20am
OH MY GOD, how many people are flying out this early in the morning anyway? There were three different queues to choose from at the check-in counter, but there seemed little to distinguish them from one another. Normally at this stage I'd be asking one of the helpful staff what to do right now; but I decided to take a little more initiative (since that was what this trip was all about) and just picked the first line that looked appropriate, and waited.

8.40am
Still in the line. Remembered that I had to check in for my flight at least an hour before departure; hoped that I would be done by 9am.

8.50am
I am still in the line.

8.55am
I am STILL in the line.

8.57am
I AM STILL IN THIS F&$%ING LINE (but I'm almost at the end).

8.58am
Made it! Declared my luggage, got my boarding passes, and hopped off to the departure gate.

9.00am
Found my way to the security checkpoint. Put my carry-on onto the conveyor for the X-ray, and stepped through the detector.
BEEP! Forgot to take my wallet and keys out of my pockets.
BEEP! Had to take off my shoes, which had metal buckles on the laces.
...I make it through the checkpoint okay the third time, but now my carry-on was raising suspicion: "Do you have any electronic devices in this bag?"
Of course I did; my camera and my Nintendo DS... so I had to pull them out and resubmit the whole shebang for analysis. Of course, I'd managed to pack half my bloody bedroom in that bag, in anticipation of being super bored on this trip - but pulling it all out for everyone to see made me wonder what the hell I was thinking packing so much useless crap...

9.10am
Walked along through Gates 1-10, wondering where my Gate 11 was. Finally looked at the signs; realised I was in the wrong bloody part of the airport; went back out through the security checkpoint.

9.30am
Ran across the airport to the other gates; went through another security checkpoint but at least I knew what to do this time (regretted wearing lace-up boots for the trip). Bought a sandwich and a drink, had a seat, and worked on my book I'd brought for the journey.

9.45am
Boarded my first plane for the day! At last!

10am
Plane takeoff delayed to load up baggage, but we were on our way soon enough. Takeoffs are sure noisy though, and adjusting my ears for the air pressure took practice. Brought some gum, which helped.

11.50am
Looked at my watch, and then my pass for the connecting flight; suddenly realised that I was twenty minutes late for the connection! Didn't panic because I figured the airline had a contingency for this problem.

12.10pm
The guy next to me checked his watch, and I noticed his was an hour behind mine. Of course, Queensland doesn't do Daylight Savings; I had plenty of time!

12.25pm - no wait, make it 11.25am
Hopped out of the plane; looked for Gate 46; looked at the gate I'd just left; hey, I'm taking the same plane!

11.26am
Stopped to use the local toilets; decided not to use one particular cubicle after finding a used pair of underpants shoved into the toilet paper holder. Signage around the terminal said that Virgin Blue were in the process of upgrading their toilets... I wished they'd done it sooner.

11.40am - 1.20pm
Boarded plane, flight was uneventful. Read my book about famous unsolved codes and ciphers (stuff like the Voynich manuscript and whatnot). Considered playing the DS for a bit, but wasn't sure if it was allowed; couldn't take any photos because I had a middle seat and there wasn't much of a view.

1.25pm
Landed at Proserpine, and suddenly the clothes that weren't warm enough in Victoria were stifling - welcome to Queensland! (The airport in Brisbane was airconditioned, but Proserpine made me walk out into the balmy tropical weather... perfect!)

1.30pm
Met up with Dad, and had a quick chat while we waited for my luggage. It was pretty easy to see my bright red suitcase, though I was surprised at how many other red cases there were. I'd remembered to attach some funny-coloured ribbon to the handle to make it easier to get.

1.35pm
While Dad struggled to reverse out of the parking spachttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gife (in a car park that was still under reconstruction) I suddenly remembered I'd left his birthday present from me back at home... oh well, looks like I'll be buying him another one this year!

Rest of the Day
  • Stopped for a fish and chip lunch; I think we had battered mackerel, but whatever it was it was nice!
  • Went to an interesting shop called Colour Me Crazy, which is full of weird colourful hippy/new-age/kooky ornaments and clothing. If I'd been clever I would have taken some pictures of the interior, but my camera was tucked away inside my bag, which was locked up in the car; let's just say that all the stuff was sorted out by colour, and it was hanging from everywhere... it was like being inside a giant paint pallette!
  • Had a look around, as my Dad brought me up to speed about all the stuff that's happened up his way since the last time I visited him. This was just after the tropical cyclone and the floods, so there was some significant damage, but not as bad as in other parts of the state.
  • Dad stopped off at a florist to get some roses and chocolates for his lady fair. A few days later, my Dad found the same box of chocolates in the supermarket for about 40% cheaper than what he paid for them; I said, well, DUH. ;D
...After an hour's drive, I finally made it to my Dad's house. Success! My day's journey was at an end!

Welcome to Paradise!

Postcard from Paradise

Hello everybody from tropical Queensland!!!

...Okay, you're probably imagining beautiful palm trees on pristine white beaches, lapped by crystal blue water. Not quite the case, but it is a wonderful piece of quiet bushland with a refreshing creek at the bottom (and a comfortable split-level house with all the mod-cons).

I'm up in Far North Queensland with my Dad and Stepmum for a week, in honour of his birthday, and it's actually been quite nice to get away from the stresses of the daily routine. I thought I'd find it hard to cope being relatively isolated from civilisation - the nearest town is at least an hour away - but it's been pretty good here; I still have some of the money I brought up from home! (Though the lack of department stores and takeaway places does help.)

The folks have been happy to have me up here. The last time I came up was about six years ago, and though the place still looks mostly the same, it's been interesting to see how much has changed. My Dad's place in particular is a work of art - in progress; he tells me that he'll be laying the slab for the laundry after I leave, and hopes to have it finished by the end of March.

I brought up a heap of books and gadgets in case I needed to keep myself busy, but the "toy" I've used the most has been my digital camera - I'm treating this trip as not just a sociable one, but also - dare I say it? - a photojournalistic one?

At least, I'm treating it as though I'm sharing this trip with everyone I know, who hasn't been up this way before. All around me right now are millions of fascinating plants, birds, insects, buildings, landscapes... many of which I can hear through the screen door.

NB. trying to take decent photos in the dark, with a camera that won't let you adjust the f-stop or shutter speed, is VERY VERY HARD.

All right, I'll put up pictures when I get back home. Hope you all are doing fine wherever you are in the world! Normal transmissions will resume shortly.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wait a minute, what happened to January?!

Seriously, it was January just about a week ago...

Holy smokes, we're one month into 2011 already! That went awful fast.

Quick TL;DR summary of the past couple of months:
  • Did the Christmas thing - went to work for a few hours; went to visit friends for Christmas dinner, and then; drove for two hours on an unfamiliar road in the dark so we could collect my nephew, and THEN had to drive two hours back. (I got someone else to do the second trip on my behalf - I was WAY too tired to manage it.)
  • Did the New Years' thing - went to our friends' place nearby for a pool party, even though we only spent about 30 minutes in said pool because it wasn't warm enough to stay in it for long. (PS. we seem to have misplaced our summer - do you have it perhaps?)
  • Had mysterious car troubles - something weird was happening with the electrics connected to the engine; most of the time the car was fine, but occasionally it would fail to start proplerly, blow a fuse, and on more than one occasion the dashboard smouldered. Eeep. My stepdad had a look, found a loose wire that was the probable cause, and now my car is behaving itself again. For now.
  • Friends of mine got married, after having been together and raising a family for the past five years (and have been friends for even longer). It was really great to see all of the friends and family come together and help out the bride and groom; my mother even made the bridal gown!
  • Oh, and parts of Australia got threatened by the elements, but not bushfire this time - rather, the opposite: Queensland got rained out and washed away in January, and then had visits from Cyclones Larry and Yasi in February... while New South Wales and Victoria copped the leftovers of these two in the form of huge storms and more flooding.
...A friend of mine had actually put this blog under the January spotlight of her Write Club, but silly me I totally forgot to update anything for the past month, despite actually having stuff to write about. Erm... oops?

What can I say? I apologise to the visitors who may or may not have come through, hoping to find something more recent than my Dad's car accident, and hope that if anyone else out there is still reading this, I'll be going up to Queensland to visit family next week - so this space will actually have something up-to-the-minute on it, if we're lucky!

Sigh. I know, I know. It's not that I didn't want to write to you all, it's just that sometimes the little ole motivation gland doesn't want to act. Sometimes, you just gotta pick up that little cattle prod and give it a jolt, you know?

Long story short, I'm not dead yet. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Real Meaning Of The Season

...continuing on from Part One (which is actually the post BELOW this, thanks to the chronological stacking of the blog structure):

Around the same time that my friends came to visit, we also had a visit from my Dad and his partner, who had come down all the way from Queensland in their trusty 4WD. They live further away from us than my friends do, so you can imagine how frequently we don't get to see them!

Dad's visit was very much appreciated. We caught up, shared Christmas gifts, went out for lunch, took photos, and sampled Licorice Sherbet Bombs (which apparently aren't available in Queensland; my Dad actually made a point of calling into the factory while in the state, and bought a 2kg bag full of them!

They only got to apend about a week in the area before they had to drive back up, so they spent most of that time running around visiting everybody. My sister and I really only got to see them for about half a day all up, and then it was time for them to move on to the next destination.

It didn't matter too much though, because we all knew that they made the most of the time they had, and we appreciated it very much.

...A few days later, my phone rings at work. It's my sister: "Has Dad called you yet?"

It turned out, she'd just spoken to him on the phone; the day before, Dad and his partner were on their way back home, and while on the highway somewhere in New South Wales, they had collided with another vehicle at high speed.
The impact rolled their 4WD and made it a write-off; luckily for them, they both avoided serious injury, and were able to walk away, and their insurance meant that they still got a ride home (by plane this time).

It was an incredibly lucky thing that they both survived - I can't even imagine how I would feel if they had been seriously injured, or worse.
It makes me - us, my sisters and the rest of the family too - appreciate the time we had and have together.

Take care this season, folks.

Oh boy, here we go

My computer is playing up at the moment, so I'm trying to use my DSi to manage the task of posting here. Holy heck, it's much harder to do this when you're navigating semi-functional webpages on a teeny tiny screen! Let's just see how this works, hey?

...Well, that seemed to work without too much trouble - though, I doubt I'll be trading in my keyboard any time soon.

So! It's nearly That Time Of Year Again™, and everyone is frantically rushing around the shopping centres trying to prove how much they love each other via expensive and impractical gifts! Gotta love it.

I've been clever this year, and did most of the gift-shopping back as far as June (when I still had my last job). Yet, I still went through the whole "maybe I should get so-and-so a little more"...

I'll be working again on eXcemas Day this year, but only for about three hours... which means that I'll then have to do the big run-around afterwards in order to catch up with everybody. (I'll be driving for at least 3 hours afterwards!)

-----------

I got to socialise a few times this month, and all from the comfort of my home. I had a couple of friends come down for a visit - I 've known them both for at least ten years, from when we all used to study at TAFE. Unfortunately our jobs and locations keep us from seeing each other as much as we would want to nowadays, so whenever we get to meet up is a pretty big deal.

Anyways, once they'd arrived, and we did the basic catxh-up, we fell back into old habits... which were basically sitting around, talking trash and generally doing a lot of not much at all.
Oh, we did get in a few games of Beatles Rock Band too.

-----------

I have more to say but the browser won't let me enter any more characters into this text-box - damn you, Opera! - so I'll continue in the next post.

End of Part One!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wot a Wizace!

I really really really like this video.

Reyn Ouwehand has been in the business of making music for videogames for years, and has released several albums of both his own compositions and that of others. Here, he plays the theme tune from Wizball, which was composed by Martin Galway. The tune was pretty good for the humble C64, but here it sounds amazing:

Some cool and relevant links:
Reyn's Homepage (this page scrolls horizontally b.t.w.)
Wikipedia entry on Martin Galway
C64Audio.com
C64-Wiki entry on the original Wizball game
Retrospec remake of Wizball (a free downloadable game for Windows and Mac)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

So Long, November

And so, another month runs away from us all. Only 25 days to Christmas, and 31 before the year leaves us for good. It really does feel like time moves so much faster now!

So, here's a quick-ish recap of what I got up to in the last month:

I slowly got the hang of my new job. The manager said that I was the fastest person they'd ever seen at adapting to the registers, which made them happy (they are essentially the same register system that they had at the last place). However, I only wish I could have translated that same success to the rest of the tasklist; it's been so damn difficult trying to work out which knowledge I need to keep, and which skills I'm better off forgetting. The good news is that I have been improving and getting more stuff done over the month, which makes me happy.

I went and visited my friend in Warragul twice - the first time I had to leave early so I could cover someone's "sickie" at short notice. (That in itself was kinda weird, since I was still in the middle of training at that stage and felt totally out of my depth, but it was only a short shift and I managed fine.)
...The second visit to my friends was much better. We spent most of the day fooling around like friends do; we had a go at making soft drinks with a Soda Stream system, which I'd never seen in action and was very curious (long story short - it's just fizzed up water with sugary syrup added to it).
Then we tried to figure out what kind of animal was making these small holes in the backyard:

We assumed that they were yabbies (small freshwater crayfish-type animals) except that these holes were too far away from a watersource for that to make sense; didn't stop my friend from trying to coax one out by ramming a big stick into the hole.

Needless to say, it didn't really work. Maybe they were yabbies on holiday, or something. Or maybe there are bits of crustacean mashed two-foot deep into the ground... who can tell?

I was supposed to go up and visit my Dad in Queensland near the end of the month, but had to defer it until January thanks to the new job - which I was happy with. I figured I'd have to put it off even before I'd had the job interview! (I hated putting my Dad out like that, but he didn't seem to mind so much; so long as I still go up and visit him... eventually.)

I'm still having some issues adjusting to the new hours I'm keeping. I'm meant to be working from 11pm to 7am, four days a week. That basically means I sleep through the better part of the day - unless something wakes me up, like the bloody phone ringing >:{ - so when my "weekend" comes up, I have the option of either keeping my nighttime schedule, or trying to break the cycle and get at least something out of the natural daytime. So far, I've been keeping the latter, mostly to fulfill the obligations I've been making to others, but also because it's damn annoying only doing stuff at night!
Also, I've been noticing a residual tiredness, which has been affecting my sense of judgement slightly.

I also caught up with my friends from the days of the mural project. It had been several months since we'd last gathered, and I wasn't sure how much longer I would be available now that I had a job again - as it turned out, no major problem on my part, but have you ever tried to synchronise the schedules of more than three people?
Anyway, I'd been meaning to ask the art director of the project if I could buy one of her works of art - specifically one of her ink-brush pictures, of which she'd done an entire series a few years ago - and so, after perusing her collection, she surprised me by giving me this:

I naturally went straight to the picture framing place and had it professionally mounted. It's now on the wall above my computer desk, and I'm looking at it right now!

I went to the Gem, Bottle and Collectibles Expo last week. It's basically a big room full of people showing off their wares, which happen to be items of a sought-after nature (gemstones, collectible books, vintage bottles, stamps, swapcards, etc.) and for some reason I felt it necessary to spend quite a bit of money in there. I came out with some old Coca-Cola glass bottles, of the kind I barely even remember (this is going back about thirty years, before soft drinks started being sold in plastic bottles); my uncle collects Coca-Cola stuff, so he will be very pleased when he gets those.
The rest of the stuff I got was basically ROCKS, but at least they were attractive rocks. If I'd been interested at the time, I could have asked what some of them were, but that takes away from the challenge of discovery, of course! What's the value of saying "Here's a nice piece of chalcopyrite" without having the research to back it up, anyway?

And... now it's December, and I turned 32 this year. When did this happen?!? insert sound of premature mid-life crisis
But seriously, though... this year my birthday was good.
I went out for lunch with my family, and then I helped my Ma out with her Christmas shopping, which basically involved following her around and acting as a sounding board for gift ideas - "Do you think your sister would like these pearl earrings? How about we get her a hot tub?" and so on and no, those were not actual ideas.
It was rather weird, though. While we were out and about, we kept running into people who remembered me from my previous job, and they were so friendly and asked me how I was doing [fine, thanks] and if I'd scored a new job yet [yes, actually] and about how those dreadful [people from country I won't name] weren't running the old shops very well, and so on...
And my Ma thought it was so funny that it kept happening wherever we went, it became a kind of running joke, to the point where people were just saying "Oh, hello Ben!" to me on the street!
Who knows, maybe it was some Birthday Mojo thing... Anyway, once we'd got back off the street and away from my audience, we cleaned up and went out for dinner at a bistro-type place, which was also nice. And then, we went home and had cake! And then tried our hands at Beatles RockBand! (once we figured out how to make it work in two-player, that is)
And then... well, I came online and posted about it all here! And so... goodnight!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tics Tacs - the Inverse of Kit Kats

...okay, sorry for the folks who thought my last post was TL and so DR. Basically, here's a quick catch up over what happened since September:
  • I lost my job
  • I caught chicken pox
  • I then caught a cold, or flu, or some upper respiratory infection
  • thus I spent half of September sick
  • and I missed out on the company break-up because I was too contagious to go
  • (oh, and my sister caught the pox as well, and we both almost died apparently)
  • my savings started running out at the end of the month
  • so I signed up for unemployment benefits
  • two days later, my tax refund arrived, which meant I didn't need to go on the Dole (d'oh!)
  • I applied for a few jobs, and had my name put down for something else via my employment agency contact
  • two weeks into October, I scored an interview at another service station
  • I was the best candidate, and I got the job
  • so now, I am employed again! :)
Weird how it works out like that, isn't it?
So now, I at least have an income again (yay!), but now I have to start worrying about keeping schedules and missing out on important social gatherings all over again (boo).
Still, it beats being on the Dole.



I got an email from my old American penpal the other week; she has a much more exciting blog than mine, not neglected or anything, but she is apparently a semi-regular reader of this one. She asked me if I were still posting anything on this thing, and I explained that I didn't have a lot to share about myself these days...

And then I remembered something; back when we first started writing to each other (which was probably waaay back in '98 or so), we used to send each other different types of confectionery. She would send me delicious Hershey's chocolate bars and Jelly Belly beans straight from the United States, and I would represent humble Australia by sending her yummy Tim Tams and Peppermint Aero bars.

Sadly, this Candy Exchange was thwarted by the change in political temperature brought about by September 11 - the US Government shortly implemented new controls on importing food into the USA, such that every food item brought into the country (whether it be a shipment of beef, a crate of oranges, or just a big crazy-looking box full of sugary crap) required lengthy documentation for each unique item, detailing where each product was made, who made it, how it was packaged, what it was made of, how many were in each pack, how tasty it was, how many the postal inspectors were allowed to sample, etc. etc. etc.

I am sorry to say that, because of my enthusiasm for the project, the registration process was ridiculously daunting, and so I failed to honour my part of the exchange.
...but I DID at least buy the candy, so that counts for something, right?

Anyway, while I was cleaning up my room the other day, I found the parcel I'd assembled a couple of years ago, and it still had some confectionery items in it! Now, I know what you're thinking, and yes, a lot of the stuff in the box was spoiled; chocolate does not keep for much longer than two years (trust me on this - ick).

Before I throw all of this stuff out, I'd like to show you some of the interesting stuff we got to sample over the past couple of years, because it's kinda interesting, you know?

First up, the Kit Kat Chunky bars. In Australia, Nestlé has the license to make Kit Kats, and, along with the regular 4-finger packs, they make these over-sized single-finger bars. As many popular snacks do these days, they sometimes come in seasonal "fun" flavours; though they weren't all available at the same time, I managed to assemble a collection of them (click to see close-up):
Left side: Honeycomb; the regular Chunky; Caramel; Cookies and Cream (these last three are the only ones still currently available).
Right Side:
Chocolate Strawberry (special fundraising edition for the Pink Ribbon breast cancer charity, it has a pink strawberry wafer inside); Cookie Dough; Chocolate Overload (every element of the bar is chocolate flavoured!); Toffee Crisp.
Not Pictured:
Mint Crisp; Peanut Butter (which I thought tasted foul, nothing like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups); and White Chocolate (because they never released that in a Chunky bar!)
If you're at all interested in seeing some other strangely-flavoured Kit Kat bars, click here and here for the Japanese take on them!


And continuing the colourful candy theme, we move on to Tic Tacs:

Top row: Peppermint; Spearmint; Orange; Extra Strong Mint; Apple Sour.
Bottom Row: Peppermint (in a special box for the Pink Ribbon charity); Passionfruit Mint; Lemon Mint; Mango; Tropical Acerola (which I imagine is some kind of berry?).
The first three flavours were pretty much the only variety of Tic Tac available here until about ten years ago; then they released the Extra Strong, and then the Passionfruit flavoured one (which is... an acquired taste). After that they seemed to go a bit mad with flavours. The most recent variety is Citrus Twist, which isn't included here.


I was fascinated to learn that Tic Tacs had vastly different flavours in the States; thanks to my penpal, I got to sample some Wintergreen flavored Tacs, which I was also surprised to learn were actually green - none of the above flavours have any colouring, aside from the actual box. I understand there is also a Cinnamon flavoured Tic Tac?

Learning about this sort of thing is very interesting, I think - things as simple as the food we eat can be vastly different when you travel even a short distance (like interstate), so I can only guess what someone else in another country would think of our old familiar "lollies"!

Okay, enough of the candy comparison! If anyone out there wants to find out more about the local confec., send me a comment, and I'll see what I can put up! For further recommended reading, have a look at the Candy Blog for more sweeties from around the world!

Back soon! :D
(so, how's that Loretta?)