Thursday, March 31, 2005

Paddington and Woolahra

Walked around in Paddington and Woolahra yesterday. Neighborhoods just east of the CBD (central business district) of Sydney. Nice, yuppieish community, but then going up in value when you get to Woolahra.

Took a few snaps of the terrace houses in the very leafy neighborhood. A bit gray and humid with some torrential downpours. The photos were a little flat with the bad light. Hoping for that 30 degree and sunny weather so I can go to the beach and stop making photos.

Terrace3

Leafy "Paddington" area.Paddington

Of course I had to show a few of my favorite pubs. The Four In Hand and the Lord Dudley.

Four in Hand

Dudley

More walking today and many errands.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A Bit of Golf

Just at the golf course the other day. Called 'The Coast' for obvious reasons, this is one of the cheaper and more accessible places for memberless-occasional golfers like me to play.

richtonegolfClick on this link for the full beauty of the coastline

Something one should never do on the golf course? Tee off while the previous party is still on the putting green on a par three. Sure my friend said "go ahead Danno" due to my inability to get any distance or go in the right direction in one hit. Of course, this time I am spot on and hit one of their balls right before the put. I promptly spread the blame to my 3 friends. Guilty!

boyslineCraig, Tone, Richo: Guilty as charged!

No, Dasa, I did not see any kangaroos when I played.
roogolf

Nauseous Nostalgia

It is quite odd being back in Sydney after so long. The smells, the old friends, the old friends that smell. The weather is a bit changeable, with thunder storms and cloud bursts, a bit of humidity and then a few days of hot, 30 degree weather and enough sun for the beach.

This is what I needed after a long winter of illness, dark days, some beautiful snow and some not so beautiful, street mucked, side of the road snow. Apartment renovation has been dragging on, the wife has been traveling and me stuck at the in-law's home worrying about the dogs up at the cold farm.

But then, to really throw the senses into disarray - both physical and emotional - coming to Sydney at the end of their(my?) summer. Staying at the house of an old flame, P, while she is away with her hubby and daughter, on the very same old street where I rented with a good friend, R. In fact he is here with me, too, coming in from Asian ports for the wedding of the third part of the old group, T.

The smells, the birds; people must think I am crazy or a bit on the earthy side to keep mentioning these two sensory nostalgics. But with these two comes a host of other thoughts and emotions.

This morning lying in bed, I tried to visually play back the very first year I was here and could not understand how I could get so much into that first year. Balmain, the flatmates, the work, the party where I met R and P, the beach, the spicy Thai and Malaysian, a few of the first Aussie flames (a small number - but a good selection - in that first year, I might add).

Then whammo, back to reality, the loss of hair, now gray, the poor health, the worrisome work, the ties and chains to the city in Europe. The thoughts, the irresponsible, unrealistic and unaffordable thoughts of moving back to Sydney with a few quarantinable dogs and a wife that really doesn't want to. But the wife isn't the problem at all. We have it pretty good there. Sure, not nearly as well off as the entrepreneurial mates here, no beach and incredibly healthy lifestyle of Oz. But a good place for the future none the less.

The real problem is that I cannot get away from this idea of moving back! These memories! as if they will be similar in some kind of future on this gorgeous rock; the dream that things would be so much better to override the incredibly stressful logistical nightmare of finding new jobs, moving home, hearth, packrat junk and dogs. This nauseous nostalgia!

Sydney is clean. Sydney is sunny. Sydney has ferries on which its possible to enjoy, and I really mean enjoy, the workday commute. Sydney has the only sport in the world that I really enjoy seeing live: the Australian Rules Football (I mean that).

I have heard it said that Aussie Rules, is supposedly similar to some kind of Gaelic Football. A rugby, or American football shape that is kicked and 'punched' downfield to be kicked threw 4 uprights to score. 16 players a side wearing stubby shorts and armless tee shirts. And not those swarthy Rugby League hoons that are short and squat, but rather tall, basketball types, pelting across the field to tackle, climb and catch in fantastically painful moves all without a speck of padding. Oh, and on a cricket pitch 2.5 times the size of a normal soccer field. A seat on the midpoint of the field at ground level is certainly a mistake since you need to be high up, overlooking the play to get any idea of the distance they travel so quickly, without interruption except for the goal scoring and the "mark" when a player catches a kicked ball (where he gets a very brief respite to kick it again hopefully to another player or the middle gap of the three made by the four uprights, to score a 'six').

The gut wrenching meat pies, the 1920's sing-song rally, the colorful scarves and jerseys. All part of the sunny afternoon that soon becomes a chilly but mild, sometimes rainy, afternoon by end of season in the down-under winter. A good sport to follow. But a totally isolated and repeatable occurrence on this continent; totally Australian.

Time to get off this Darlinghurst terrace and head into town for more meetings of old friends to relive more nostalgia. You have to realize that its only me that can be seen with the nausea of the disease because all these mates haven't left are still here day to day. I guess you need to sometimes - to lose it - just to realize the value of what you have got, in Australia.

terrace1b

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Javaricho muses

i just read Javaricho muses and he spoke about our night hitting the town for Tony's bucks nite.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Dog Condoms


dogcondom
Originally uploaded by Dantravels.
Somehow I got on this page advertising Dog Condoms and followed on to the FAQ page. Best question:
Can I Train My Dog To Put It On Himself?

No, the dog will require human intervention each time he wishes to put on or take off a condom.

Okay, not whats up with this? So clicking on the photo and you go to this page ww2.Sextoysex.com where I found a product I never knew existed. Along with the dolls, dildos and strapons, you can get the "Realistic Anus". What will they think of next?

But quite a good marketing gimmick, I think. Probably-false Dog Condoms (at least I hope so) leading to Sex toys. But I wonder if they realize that they probably have got the pet-lover-only crowd with this advert.

Mercy Killing Soldier.

This article sounds so wierd to me and yet in some ways this soldier's actions seem to me to be one of those things that we, the protected, the isolated, the media puppets, don't understand. Mainly what we don't understand, I believe, is that in the heat of battle, what we calmly dissect in front of pc's, is in fact boundryless, mayhem. By boundries I mean, the ethical structure that supports our society. Or something like that. Seems to me that he did something correct, but ... yes, this is important.. it opens the doors for those who do not do the correct thing. It won't get any better or easier in the future if one side has all these rules (yes, that separates us from the animals...yeah yeah yeah).

Monday, March 21, 2005

How The Vietnamese Counted On Negative PR

Q: Was the American antiwar movement important to Hanoi's victory?
A: It was essential to our strategy. Support of the war from our rear was completely secure while the American rear was vulnerable. Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m. to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and that she would struggle along with us.

Hat tip to Whacking Day

I Am Off To Australia

Hooray, off to OZ on the 24th of March for two weeks. Contact me via email dan[at]dantravels.com or ring me on +61 409 717 654 (hope this phone works).

Gulp! 6 meter long shark bites man in half off the coast of Western Australia

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A Cold Night At Matejska Fair

Was out in the sun yesterday with my brother in law and his girl walking dogs in the forest near Melnik, and going to a geasy-but-good pub lunch. Later we went to the Matejska Pout or Mathew's Fair; basically an amusement park in the Vystiviste fairground in Prague 7. It was chily, let me tell you, and after being lulled into a few days of spring!

A few hits off a joint (one of the redeeming qualities of my brother in law) and then right on to a few scary rides to stress my ulcer and regret the really strong weed.

After stumbling around the grounds and going back for a few more rides, we end up walking around the back of the rides where the white-trashy looking mobile homes are (for the owner? operators? of the rides) and I noticed 5 late model Mercedes, 4 late model BMWs and one Audi. And not many normal-priced cars around. What the heck is going on here? Where is this cash coming from? The people who run these things don't really look too well off.

Or are we talking about some illegal activities that go along with the operation of amusement parks?

Or... is it time for me to run away with the circus?

MelnikWalk
Originally uploaded by Dantravels.
Bored so here is more of the dogs and me.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Dog Blogging

Going to bail my dogs out for a weekend at the in-laws' cottage.

Note: this isn't really their present predicament; just a temporary cage during a Saturday training last year.

But its how I feel about them when they are away.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Tram 22; No Longer The Best Tram

It may sound a bit silly to have your favorite tram but I have really heard people speak of the 22 tram that way. Why? Because of its path connecting the Northwest of city to the Southeast, and going through major neighborhoods like Hradcany near the castle, Malostrana below the castle, Ujezd near Bohemia Bagel, past the National Theatre on Narodni, and then Tesco on up through part of Vinohrady and even to Vrsovice.

Its my favorite tram.

And then yesterday I was driving to work and passed this tram accident. The 22 jumped the tracks and wiped out a bunch of people, killing two outright. By the number of police and hasici (emergency serivices) on hand I at first thought it was some sort of terrorist action.

Foto

Photos found on blesk.

Foto

You always wonder what could happen if you stepped in front of a tram, or if you accidently got nudged off the platform (the small curb that you stand on is actually being called a platform like at the train station).

Foto

Some one didn't come home from work that day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Hillary Opens Mouth; Taunts Greenspan

Sorry, but it seems to me that a senator from New York, the financial capital, should not criticize Alan Greenspan. I think she just dealt herself another major blow.

A Stab At A Laugh

White House Tries New Gentle Approach to Diplomacy email this post

ricehughes.jpgIn an effort to sensitively annihilate growing anti-Americanism around the world, Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes broke out the ten-kiloton smiles at a press conference earlier today, where Hughes was introduced as the Bush Adminstration's choice for the role of undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. Rice said that the United States "must mobilize young people around the world to shatter the mistrust of past grievances and to foster a new spirit of tolerance and mutual respect." President Bush, via a written statement, suggested "an aggressive effort to share and communicate America's fundamental values..." Not to be outdone, Hughes tenderly added, "We need to stab these motherfuckers in the eye with the generosity and compassion of the American people!"

Columbia Journo School Says Election Coverage Biased

As if this wasn't obvious.

I wonder if Columbia will find itself attacked over this study.

How to Get In the News

A long time ago I was discussing with a friend of mine how he might get some notoriety, get some publicity; get in the newspaper. I suggested buying a big axe, taking two hits of acid, and just go strolling downtown.

Seems like my theory was proven correct. Here and here.

What I found interesting in this article is how seemingly calm the attacker was in his pursuit. He was somewhat satisfied afterwards, I think.

Another thing is that the first article hints that the attacker knew the victim. What was he? An old boss? A childhood teacher? Somehow there is a hint of poorly executed justice here. I mean how many times have we fantasized about meeting an old boss and what we might do. Personally I have decided to punch one guy if I ever cross paths with him. I would hope to break his nose. I figure the penalty I could get would be only a minor hassle.

But I still would be lumped in with the "axeman" above.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

B-Movie life

Its so weird being so laid up with the flu and feeling yucky and using words like yucky. The world is so surreal especially walking down the street and seeing such strange looking people meeting my gaze.

I swear they are like something out a movie. A b-movie of my life.

And just now we are at the part where the movie shows the main character's rock bottom. Except that it is really not rock-bottom because I have a pretty decent life.

Sure, I am on and off, down now an and then; maybe more of a limbo-like existence. Job is unsure, wife has had some rheumetism probs, house being rennovated and stuck at the in-laws for a month. And... I know I keep mentioning this... but the dogs are locked up at a farm and I keep worrying.

And then I read about other people. For example, blogger who's stuff I occasionally look at, he's down with Crone's disease and had an operation at a Czech hospital. And the guy is dealing with it! He's blogging and not doing any of the woe-is-me, stuff. Man, I would be.

What am I complaining about. Just got to be tougher.

Add to that, I don't blog anything interesting, just a big whinge.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Dog Blogging On A Dreary Day


Sleeepy
Originally uploaded by Dantravels.


Life is not easy lately. The flat is undergoing new pipe and electricity cable surgery, so we have to stay with my wife's parents. And the wife is travelling a lot lately while being ill with bad back pains. Work is iffy at best compounding the recurrent ulcer probs. Add to that, I have been sick with flu.

And we miss the dogs.

Ginger and Semik are at a friend's 'non-stop' dog service place near Melnik, 40km north. After the life of luxury we provide for them, being stuck outside all day in below freezing weather makes us worried sick.

Sure, I am a wimp when it comes to dogs. They are fine, they sleep indoors at night and I can go see them once or twice a week.

But I miss my dogs. That's all there is to it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Cell Phone Mania.... Man, the USA is way behind.

I bought my first cell in Ukraine in 98. I was a late bloomer in some sense since all the investment bankers there had them a year or two earlier. (I still have this Ericsson phone; a real solid performer, and not too much of a 'brick').

Then I moved to Greece. Wow, what an eye opener for the phone age. It was there that I realized how behind the States was (still is) as regards the usage of mobiles. (In Europe and Australia, as well as Asia -HK, Singapore, Jakarta- the most often used word is 'mobile. Sometimes the Germans say 'my handy'. I would have thought the USA would catch up. )

There I learned about SMS (text messages for you State-siders), vibrating phones, infrared data transfer, the pains of calls wherever you are... and my addiction to it.

But one thing really made sense. I was, at the time, also selling Greek stocks to foreign investors and learned a lot about the two main mobile phone providers, OTE and Telestet. The main thing is that in a place like Greece, the infrastructure is on par with Yugoslavia .. (after, one might joke, the 98 -99 Nato bombing campaign). So the coverage of land lines is really quite bad. Mobiles were more easily distributed. Even grandmothers in the villages were getting them from their children. (Note: I am now amused that a local Czech company is selling a mobile handset that looks like a normal desk phone targeting the grandparent crowd who don't like the small buttons. Jablotron, based in Jabonec, of all places. Amusingly this region is etter known for its manufacture of clothing buttons in the days gone by.)

Thus the advantage of the states in land line coverage, really made them backwards in mobile telephony. And, the problems with all the operators in the states, the poor reach of the broadcasting towers, and even the lower tech phones, is so perplexing to me. (my goodness, I laugh every time I see a movie of the USA where they still have cell phones with antennae!).

Sure we still have some rare roaming problems, and the rates are sometimes as confusing as the fine print in an insurance contract. But still, the service is really reliable. I mean really, in Germany, Greece, Itally, Romania, Austria, all places where I have owned mobile phone sim cards or have 'roamed' through, the service is good. On a journey to the states a few years back I bought a 900 gsm compatible phone that accepted my card, but was surprised at the lack of coverage in the states. (Yes, I had an antenna).

This CNN article brings up some of the issues about the receiver being forced to pay and the fact that many 20-30 year olds have no land line. So the surprising thing for me is that this is like an article written here 5 years ago! And I am in Czech Republic!