Sunday, November 28, 2010

Biting Off More Than One Can (or wants to) Chew; alternatively titled, "Boycott Grill'd"

As the fine city of Perth undergoes hundreds of millions of dollars worth of construction in an attempt to catapult ourselves into the upper echelon of Australian capital cities, there are a few elements that city planners have neglected. Little things like effective networks of public transit, CBD activities after 6pm on nights other than Friday, taking full advantage of the prime real estate along the Swan River, and updating the WACA have been cast aside in favor of the much needed sidewalk widening and tree planting on Saint George's Terrace. Perth probably has to do a lil' bit more work to make it into the conversation with Sydney, Melbourne, or even Brisbane, but one area where Perth holds its own is gourmet burger restaurants.

That's right. Gourmet. Burger. Restaurants.

Perth boasts a collection of fantastic places to get a classy burger and fries including Jus Burgers, Flipside, Australia's Finest Burgers, The Burger Bistro, and until last night, Grill'd was included in that number, but nevermore.

Cate and I went to Grill'd with one goal in mind; have a delicious burger with a side of chips. This is something that we knew Grill'd could achieve for us as we ranked it highly in our personal hierarchy of restaurants-that-are-better-than-fast-food-but-not-quite-real-sit-down-meals. In fact, we first came across Grill'd during our honeymoon in Melbourne and absolutely fell in love with their decor, burgers, and most of all, their french fries. Grill'd employs a unique rosemary/ salt flake dusting on their thick cut chips (for the record, I'm alternating between 'chips' and 'french fries' for variety's sake, not because I'm, "becoming Australian.") which endeared them to us at first bite.

Upon sitting down to our meal, we both ripped into our bacon cheeseburgers with delight, finishing them perhaps a bit too quickly, but this meal had only just begun. We still had two 3"X6"X1.5" bags of french fries to consume and we were ready for the challenge. Armed with our aioli and tomato dipping sauces, we went to work on the chips filled with all of the joy that one could take from eating delectable morsels of salty, fried potato. Then it happened.

I bit into a french fry and almost simultaneously, I caught a whiff of the most foul smelling garbage I had ever smelled. (To put that in context, I have encountered some awful scents; I think the worst was the stench of rotting clothes upon opening the door of a washing machine in a home in New Orleans... seven months after Hurricane Katrina flooded the city with near toxic waste; and I was wearing a ventilator at the time.) I thought I saw an employee leaving from Grill'd at the same time, so I just assumed that he must have been taking out some particularly putrid refuse. But, the smell didn't dissipate after a few seconds and I asked Cate if she could smell it because the odor was so oppressive. And she said, verbatim, "No, I don't smell anything. You are crazy!" Or something along those lines :) I really could not figure it out, I searched the other faces in our vicinity to see if anyone else had caught a whiff of whatever this nastiness was and no one else seemed to be concerned. Then I looked down at the half eaten french fry in my hand and thought the unthinkable. Could this french fry, any french fry for that matter, produce such a foul smell when for the previous 24 years all french fries had brought me was gustatory pleasure? I incredulously sniffed the fry, but couldn't really smell anything different because the foulness still hung around me. So I asked Cate to smell the chip in a last ditch effort to restore sanity to my world.

She confirmed my worst fears. It was in fact the chip that smelled and of course tasted so wretchedly horrible. Naturally, by this point, I had already ingested the devil potato and feared for the worst. I was too stunned to say anything to the Grill'd staff, plus I wasn't quite sure what I would say anyway, "Uh, yeah, I was eating one of your chips... and it tasted like the bottom of a trashcan, outside a fish market, on a summer's day." Or maybe I would just suggest that the manager smell the fry in question and make his/ her own decision?

Alas, all I could do was muster enough strength to walk away from the restaurant in disbelief, never to return to Grill'd.

I encourage you to do the same; boycott Grill'd, unless you want to risk the same fate...

Sunday, October 10, 2010


So... I usually only like to write when I have a story to tell. It does not have to be a specific story per se, but I want to at least illuminate/ articulate some event, feeling, or emotion.

Today, I have no stories to share.

However, I have been living my life for the past 3.5 months and now that I sit down to think about it, a disproportionate amount of change/ growth has taken place. In this rare moment of thought, I also re-realized that while I like to write fanciful tales of wild adventures, my favorite authors just tell the story of their lives. Not autobiographically, but in such a fashion that ones everyday life is recounted so cleverly that it becomes a thing worth reading. Now, with that said, temper your expectations. Haha, I am already struggling to order my thoughts the way I want to and I haven't even started my "story;" so bear with me, and enjoy!

Let me take you back to the middle of June, just a few days before my last post. I was applying to my 99th job since arriving on Australia's fair shores. Well, to be entirely honest, it was well over 125, but the running tally I had solely relied on the number of covering letters I had saved and subsequently sent out and some jobs I applied for just wanted a resume. But I digress. The job I applied for sounded like it was right up my alley; it was with a not- for- profit non- government agency called Outcare and I would be mentoring young men who had recently left the loving supervision of the Western Australian Department of Corrections. I sent my resume and covering letter and went about my other business (two part time jobs with a third due to start once my police clearance had been returned and looking for more jobs). The manager of the position surprised me with a call a couple of days later and asked me if I might be interested in a different position with Outcare. The role he proposed worked with prisoners to help them develop their careers; to put plans in place to help them achieve whatever career goals they might have. I thought this sounded even more up my alley and coupled with the fact that the person who would potentially be hiring me was suggesting that I apply for this position, I had no choice but to apply. On the morning of the 24th of June, I showed up to Outcare, interviewed with three of their managers for different departments and left feeling pretty confident. Later that afternoon, I would be overjoyed as the Career Development manager called me back and asked, "How would you like to start working for Outcare on Monday morning?" Again, I was overjoyed! After nearly two years of trying to find stable full- time work, I finally had, and in a field/ position that I could actually sink my teeth into!

I began working with the career development team and it was going very well. I learned that I would be working in three different prisons, one of which (Wooroloo, a minimum security prison farm... that's right, a prison farm. Prisoners there could learn all about caring for animals and land as well as the slaughtering and production of said goods for their own prison, but also others around the state. Prisoners here made textile goods like clothes and shoes for themselves as well as other prisoners around the state; I don't want to get too much into what it was like being in the prison, at least not here, I could and might write a book about that one day.) I would become very familiar with during my training as I went there twice a week for a month to observe a training course being delivered by a colleague of mine.

About a month had passed in my role and I was starting to settle in very nicely and in fact, start going out to the prisons to meet clients on my own and I had a bit of a epiphany. I was not actually sure that I wanted to be a career development officer. It certainly would have been a fulfilling role and I was more than grateful to have the opportunity to take on the position, but in observing some of the other arms of Outcare, I was really drawn to the Re- Entry team. This team worked with men and women who were still in prison and sought to help them transition smoothly back into society. I saw Re- Entry as a holistic social work ing agency of sorts that specifically worked with the prison population and I heard rumors that there might be an opening on the Re- Entry team and that it was very easy to switch departments within Outcare. So, I put the process in motion and within a few days was able to join the Re- Entry team! Two different roles within the same organization in one month and figured that I had seen my fair share of adjustment so I would be able to settle down, finally.


#1: This is a lesson out there for all of you kiddies, don't ever get too comfortable, or rather, don't think that you have, "made it." That's exactly when God throws you the curveball, or maybe it's a cut fastball, I don't know, but no matter what pitch God is delivering, it makes you take a step back and rely on Him all over again and that takes us to the next chapter in my professional life.

And right behind it...

#2: I am learning things left and right... don't let your professional life consume your whole life. I guess I had never been in a position where my non- work life could be taken over by my work life because I had never actually worked 40 hours a week doing something remotely significant. So, in my first test in this arena... I failed. I wasn't taking work home or even really thinking about it once I left work, but I let it drain me; I didn't have the energy (or at least, didn't make the energy) to really do much of anything outside of work.

Ok, just to recap. Two part time jobs as of June 22nd, then one full time job (plus Drug A.R.M. which I committed to for at least the remainder of the calendar year) a week later, then switching the job to one that fit better with my aspirations, and now we are at the beginning of August.

I have joined the Re- Entry team, hooray! Now the work starts. My title is now, "Re- Entry Case Manager;" there are about 15 of us at Outcare and we are assigned to teams which are in turn assigned to prisons. I work at Acacia Prison, actually, not too far away from Wooroloo Prison Farm (both are out int he hills of Perth, about 45minutes to an hours drive). I drive out to prison with at least one member of my team once a week to meet up with as many of my clients as I can/ needs to in that day. We usually arrive at Acacia around 8:30 or 9am and call up our clients until 11:30 when the prison effectively shuts down for lunch. The prisoners go back to their cells and we go to the cafeteria. Then we work again from 1pm til 3 or 3:30pm then drive on back to Perth. The other days of the week we meet up with clients who have already been released, do research/ paperwork for the issues that our clients would like addressed, and rotate working in Outcare's Emergency Relief (ER) service. What is Outcare's Emergency Relief service you might ask? Essentially, the Western Australian government has given us and several other agencies around the city and state funds to address immediate needs of Perth's low income population. So on Monday (my ER day) the receptionist will call me or a colleague up whenever a person shows up for ER; I'll interview him/ her to assess the situation and act appropriately to provide whatever assistance we can. We have $20 grocery vouchers that can be used at a local supermarket chain, 24 hour transit passes for the Perth transit system, as well as $5 phone cards. In addition to those three, we also can assist people with rental/ utility expenses and we also have a working relationship with a few Christian charities/ aid organizations that can provide fresh food and clothing.

All in all, I am thrilled with my job! There are certainly depressing days when I counsel men who are older than my father that it might not be the best idea to spend all of their government benefits on alcohol and cigarettes before thinking about buying food, or listen to girls younger than my sister tell me about how they are living on the street and have a baby that they need to feed; but there are also such uplifting days when I feel as if I have actually made an impact in a person's life, that God has put me in a specific situation to say some specific things to certain people and there's nothing better than that.

That about covers the professional side of things; I have been doing things from 5pm-8am and on the weekends... One of the best has been our renewed passion for the Donnelly River Holiday Village (DRHV). I wrote a post about it a while back; it is a set of rustic cabins about three hours south of Perth that we were turned on to by Cate's sister's boyfriend (thanks Shane!). The selling point for a lot of people is the semi- domesticated kangaroos and emus that roam freely through the property being fed left right and center; however, the appeal for us is the wood burning fireplace. Not only do I appreciate the aroma and warmth of the beautiful WA wood being consumed in a crackling fire, but I also have fallen in love with the physical chopping of the wood. Not sure if I have already waxed poetic on this subject, but I don't care; I will continue to gush. We even bought our own axe so we can chop the wood more efficiently than if we were to use the supplied metal wedge welded to a lead pipe. Donnelly River is also home to a great cidery and close to one of the finest wine regions in all of Australia, Margaret River (I moonlight for tourism Australia, so if you are thinking about taking a trip down under, let me know :) We really love DRHV in the winter because the nights are legitimately cold enough to need the heat of the fire, but I have a feeling that we might go during the summer as well!

A few weeks ago we took a trip to Sydney for a few days. We just decided to make a long weekend for ourselves and jet over to the east coast and it was AWESOME. We both loved Melbourne because the whole city was essentially like SoHo/ Chelsea/ East Village in NYC, Sydney on the other hand was like 34th Ave smoothly blended with the new money of Tribeca's night spots. Melbourne was filled to the brim with boutique cafes, shops, neighborhoods even and it was great; but Sydney, oh Sydney, was filled with restaurants. Eating might be our second greatest joint passion as a couple, I would like to put sport at number two, but let's be honest. We (thankfully) did some research on places we might like to eat while we were in Sydney and the one that we almost missed was head and shoulders the best! I promise, I'm not being paid by these people, but there is a business group called Merrivale and they know how to design a restaurant/ bar. There are two main streets in the city of Sydney proper, Pitt Street and George Street. Merrivale bought up about a 1/4 of a city block on George and literally developed six levels of gastronomic and imbibing delights! Each one of the restaurants or bars has its own unique theme and design scheme. We went to one called Sailors Thai, which was, surprise! a Thai restaurant, decorated in a, "chic East meets West space with dark timber furnishings." Could not have said it better myself. The food was wonderful and even though there was a bit of a nightclubbish feel, we could converse freely and easily over the table. We were very pleased with the experience and felt very trendy for the experience and we thought that was it. But, on our last day in Sydney, we were able to sneak in a trip back to the Merrivale complex to go to their steakhouse, Mad Cow. It was honestly, the 2nd best steak I have ever been served in a restaurant (in case you didn't know, Cate and I love steak and we always try to find/ try new steakhouses). Just check out their website, but it doesn't even do the places justice ( Outside of Merrivale, we just walked around pretty much every square inch of the city, which was actually really nice and something we have always missed since leaving NYC; there just aren't too many places that you can walk to in Perth or Saint Louis, but not so in NYC or Sydney. We of course went to the harbor and saw the famous opera house, but we went on a Sunday night so it was actually relatively free of tourists (outside of ourselves) and we had our pick of five or six restaurants that all look tantalizing, but most importantly, provided stunning views of the harbor, bridge, and opera house.

Our traveling days are pretty well over for the next few months, but that's mostly because we are saving up vacation days and $ for an extravaganza trip back to the United States of America! We are hoping to spend half of the trip in Saint Louis and the other half in NYC/ road tripping around the southern bits of the US. All of these plans are subject to change, but we are hoping to spend four weeks in America either around the 4th of July or in September/ October of 2011; but we'll definitely let you know when we decide what we are doing!

I have exhausted all of my mini stories and my brain with all this writing, but hopefully it won't be three months before I write again so I won't have to say so much :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

22.6.2010 Post

Good afternoon!

It has been quite some time since I have posted on this blog, and A LOT has changed since November 2009. Just to bring you up to speed if we have not personally communicated since then…

- I became a Permanent Resident (from a visa standpoint) of Australia; on Thanksgiving no less!

- I was informed that the funding had been shifted around with relation to my position as a Youth Worker at the Belmont Alternative Learning Centre. Therefore, I ceased working there in mid- December.

- A contingent of 15 or so Americans journeyed down under between December 13 and 27th to visit us!

- A lil wedding thing on January 2nd, 2010

- Cate moved into the apartment that I mentioned in earlier entries! We started making our first home together!

- I started working an en education assistant (teacher’s assistant essentially) in a second grade classroom at a grade school in Belmont (the same community that I worked in last year! In fact, some of those young adults I worked with last year had siblings at this school; and we coach a few of them on Saturday’s!

- The education assistant position was just a short term appointment and as a result of budgetary/ interpersonal/ professional qualification conflicts, I left the job after one term (February- April is the first term of the Australian school year).

- Perth endured the worst set of severe thunderstorms in about 50 years! Golf- ball sized hail and torrential rains led to widespread damage and power outages area the region. We returned home from work that evening and the wind whipped the rain against the front of our unit with such force that the water pushed through the screen door AND the solid wood door to pool inside our home! The rainwater also apparently collected above our guest bedroom ceiling and forced its way into the room through the light fitting. I say apparently because we had no idea how the carpet had become soaked since there didn’t seem to be any water on the curtains for the only window in the room. At least we had no idea until the following day when the globe lamp and light bulb fell from the ceiling to reveal a gaping, jagged, moist opening. Lovely.

- We moved out of our apartment. Haha, the timing of the storm really could not have been more perfect. We only had a six month lease which expired in April if you were doing the math at home and the water damage occurred about a week or two before we were scheduled to vacate the premises anyway. Even more fortunately, Cate’s parents had a spare bedroom that they very graciously agreed to let us use!

- Since then my life has effectively been a string of listless days filled with looking for jobs, applying for jobs, watching vast swaths of various sporting events (The French Open, the NBA Playoffs, the Super 14 rugby union competition, the NRL, and now of course, the World Cup), reading, doing laundry, and making preliminary preparations for whatever meal Cate and I cook that night. However, thankfully I have made some inroads on the job front in the past few weeks. I currently am employed by three organizations at varying levels of part-timeness. In descending order of number of hours per week worked:

(16) Constable Care; a not- for profit agency focused on delivering positive messages (similar to D.A.R.E. in the USA) to grade school children all over Western Australia (80% of the grade schools in WA were reached last year for about 180k kids!) I applied to coordinate the travel arrangements/ liaise with the schools and local police departments in the rural areas of the state. I did not succeed in this application; however the organization liked me enough to offer me a different position which I jumped at! I am a member of the sales/ marketing team and all day on Monday and Friday, I call businesses and ask them, “if they would be interested in supporting outreach to students at local primary schools?” Yeah, not my ideal job, but it is a job and I’ll leave it at that.

(12) City of Canning Youth Worker; I have not actually started this position yet because I am just waiting for my police clearance to come back and then I’ll start right away. But in this role I will work with/ mentor/ hang out with young people in a youth center after school three days a week. I am FANtastically excited about this position because it’s actually in the vein of the work that I want to be doing long term… and it also means that I will actually be out of the house working five days a week!

(6) Drug A.R.M.; another not- for profit, this one is Christian and dedicated to its Street Van outreach. We go out on Friday and Saturday nights to parts of Perth that are known gathering places for at- risk young people and seek to engage with/ provide informal counseling/ referrals to professionals to young people who have dealt with or are dealing with physical/ emotional abuse or homelessness (long term or short term) or dependency on alcohol or other drugs.

Ok, I think that catches you up on all the biographical details of my life, and I had no intention of writing that much because the impetus for my posting today has nothing to do with myself at all.

As I mentioned before, I have been gorging myself on sports and one of my favorite treats is international rugby union. The big three southern hemisphere teams (Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa) are playing at the moment and the games have been great! However, an issue that has bothered me since I started following Australian/ New Zealand sports reared its ugly head once again; the creation of teams upon an ethnic basis.

I sat down to watch a game of rugby and although I had heard of this team before, I never watched them play and throughout the whole contest it just kept grating on me, over and over and then I had to stop watching even though it was a good game. It has been a few hours since then and something has just been gnawing at me to write out everything I have been thinking on the subject over the past year and a half or so.

The team in question is the New Zealand Maori and bear with me, but I have to set out a few things for you all because I imagine that you are not too familiar with the sporting culture of New Zealand, but if you are, feel free to skip ahead. NZ is just south of Australia and I know that in America Australians are portrayed as loving their rugby, which is true to an extent, but in NZ rugby is king. Rugby in NZ probably shares the combined love, adoration, and popularity of the NFL, NBA, and MLB COMBINED in America. If you could somehow take the most zealous Red Sox, Cowboys, and Mid 90’s Chicago Bulls fan and bottle that sporting passion, I truly believe that you might approximate your average New Zealander (also, people from NZ are commonly known as Kiwis, this is just an aside because I will use that term later on and I wanted to explain it now. It’s like Americans being known as Yanks or British people as Poms.). Kiwis are well within their rights to froth over rugby, their national team (The All Blacks… a reference to the color of their uniform, that’s right, they wear all black, very inventive) is one of the most dominant forces in world rugby and it has been for decades. New Zealand, like so many other nations bore the brunt of colonial intrusion; the people group that was colonized by the British in the 18th and 19th centuries was known as and still exists today as the Maori. In a 2006 census 3.8 million (out of a total population of 4.1 million) people in NZ answered the question relating to their ethnicity. 2.6 million (about 63%) said they considered themselves “European” ethnically, 565k (about 14%) considered themselves “Maori” ethnically, and interestingly 429k considered themselves “New Zealander” ethnically. I only add those statistics to try to give a clearer picture of what I’m getting at eventually. The New Zealand Maori rugby team requires that all of its members have some Maori ancestry and there is a process in place to prove it (not sure how it plays out, but it was put in place because in the past people who “looked Maori” were eligible to play, so they wanted to make it a truly ethnically exclusive squad. But with that said, by all accounts there does seem to be a good deal of intermingling between ethnic groups in NZ, but I’m getting a bit off track).

In the midst of all of these facts rolling around in my head, I tried to gain a better idea of why this team would have been created, or at least why they still play today. The team was created in 1888 and at that time (and until 1910) was known as the “New Zealand Natives.” I have had a hard time finding out the specific reasons for the creation of the squad (which says something in itself), but I can only assume that given the relative lack of progressive thinking on racial issues in the late 19th century that the team was formed because players from Maori backgrounds were not allowed to play on the same teams as their counterparts who counted themselves as European ethnically. The need for a separate team composed of people from a specific ethnic group that is being oppressed within a nation makes complete sense. In fact, this same issue was the impetus for the creation of the Negro Leagues which was alternative for African- Americans who were not permitted to play in Major League Baseball because of the color of their skin. The Negro Leagues had a proud tradition and produced great players, but when Jackie Robinson broke into Major League Baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 it sounded the death knell for the league. This was a positive move because it allowed for all players to compete against and with one another based and skill and team affiliation as opposed to skin tone. Yet, I sat on my couch a few hours ago and watched the New Zealand Maori take on Ireland in 2010.

I can’t quite place my finger on why this bothers me so much. The members of the New Zealand Maori are not relegated to this team, on the contrary, it’s an honor to be selected (and the team is actually good! They beat Ireland and they play England later this week), the squad almost serves as a backup team to the All Blacks. But the fact that they are designated by their ethnic heritage bothers me to no end. Choosing to separate oneself along the same lines that one was, a generation ago, forcibly segregated makes absolutely no sense to me. There are those who claim that it is an issue of ethnic pride, which I can see to an extent, but no one would choose to be in the New Zealand Maori if they had the chance to play for the New Zealand All Blacks. Wouldn’t it make a much stronger statement if you were a part of the larger society and maintained your cultural roots? The All Blacks currently perform a traditional Maori chant, a “haka”, before each game and it has even become one of their trademarks. I just fail to see the logic behind keeping the second tier team based upon ethnic heritage up and running.

Clearly the parallels between ethnic/ cultural separation in sport and in society at large work to a certain extent, but there is a limit to the analogy. And in the process of writing/ thinking this all out, I have realized that my problem isn’t with the NZ Maori per se, it is with minority groups self- segregating after their forefathers ostensibly fought tooth and nail to give them access to all the same right and privileges as everyone else.

I’m not sure why I “came out of retirement” to write this or if it even made any sense; frankly, I’m not sure if it makes sense in my head yet, but everything in me rails against this sort of thing. I can only trace my indignation to one source. In the fourth grade, we had to research a historical figure and then make a presentation as that figure. I chose Thurgood Marshall, the first African- American supreme court justice, but that had very little to do with my selection. I really selected him because he was the lead lawyer in the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954. This case changed the landscape of America, and as a piece of jurisprudence, arguably set precedents all around the world. He argued that separate was inherently unequal, contrary to what the legal and popular opinion maintained. In this case he argued for the desegregation of public schools in America which is certainly a fair cry from my concerns with the NZ Maori, both in terms of magnitude and significance, but I cannot understand (I can literally understand the arguments, but I cannot justify/ legitimize them in my mind) the mentality of self- segregation and maybe I never will.

Not sure when/ if I’ll write here again, but thanks for reading this monologue and other things I have written. It truly means a lot to me that YOU would take time out of your life to read my musings.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Shocker: Australian English (shock-UH); noun, a person, place, or thing that is terrible. "Man, I can't believe how bad that referee was in the footy game." "Yeah, mate, he was a shocker."

Shocker number One: A few years back Cate and I caught a taxi to LaGuardia Airport and our driver was unbelievable. He was an erratic driver to begin with, swerving from one side of the street to the other, apparently disdaining the use of his indicators and instead, preferring to just yell at other cars and, of course, blow his horn. Unfortunately, this asinine style of driving perturbed one of the "Gypsy" cab drivers, who our driver had previously expressed his disgust with. These two gentlemen proceeded to spend the rest of our trip to the airport in some sort of jousting- for- position, nausea inducing, race to the finish. At one point, our driver nearly drove up onto the sidewalk to gain position on his opponent. They were THAT serious.

I recalled this episode from my past this morning as I rode the BUS to work. In defence of my driver, he was running five minutes late once he arrived at the busport to pick us up, so clearly he felt obliged to drive a lil recklessly to begin with. This liberty went to his head as I literally felt like this man was driving a Formula1 racer; he darted in and out of places that no bus ought dart. Then he felt disrespected by another bus driver, who was evidently stopping too quickly in front of us. Again, in his defence, the other driver was stopping to abruptly, but this is absolutely no excuse for tailgating whilst driving a 40 foot metal cylinder filled with people. Thankfully, after an expletive soaked diatribe (I didn't want to say, "expletive laced tirade," but I feat that "expletive soaked diatribe" might be just a cliche... ANYway), he pulled astride and then in front of the his rival bus driver and we were able to finish the trip in peace. Shocking.

Shocker number Two: During the aforementioned bus ride, I passed the Burswood Dome (the premier concert/ event venue in Perth... Britney Spears, Beyonce, Coldplay, Pink all performed there when they came to town) and saw the signs for Hulkamania. Now, I am not one to disparage my new home town, and to be entirely honest, I have no idea what the level of, for lack of a better phrase, Hulkamania is in the US... but seriously? Hulk Hogan still matters to anyone? I was actually curious so I looked up just how old he is... 56. He is also apparently, 6'4" and 302 pounds?! And his real name is Terry Gene Bollea, it's funny what you never think of, but I digress. Hulk Hogan is bringing his seven ring wrestling circus to Perth! And judging by the advertising saturation, we should be excited about it! I guess in my mind, Hulk Hogan stopped being relevant in the mid 1990's... All I can think of is him in his red/ yellow jumpsuit, ripping his rubbery shirt from his ripply chest... These images along with more recent ones of Hogan sporting a two tone moustache/ beard combo ring true with his fans and I have no doubt that however many shows he puts on will sell out. That's Perth. Shocking.

Ok. I promise, pictures of my new home are forthcoming... eventually.

Take care!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Insert Title Here

Over the past two months I have wanted to write something, anything, but I just could not motivate myself to write words worth reading (don't get your hopes up for this entry, but I'm just saying...). But since yesterday the paper and pen have been calling out to me; and I had to answer.

Cate and I have taken out a lease on our first place together! Cate's family has moved from their family home to a large modern apartment (those of you coming down under in December will get to know this apartment well!) Thankfully, most of the things from the family home do not flow with the contemporary ambiance of the new place so Cate's parents needed to get rid of a few things. Thus the birth of "Operation Scavenge." Cate and I have managed to fit the following items into our two bedroom apartment: Cate's brother's bed frame, her parent's mattress, a couch, her brother's work desk, a bookcase, her family's television, her family's bbq (on the balcony), her sister's chest, and two wooden coffee table- esque boxes with drawers (one of which is the resting place for the television). We also did a couple of IKEA runs and bought another bookshelf and a dinner table with four chairs :) Now, for the fun part.

In order to move most of these items and a few others over this past weekend we rented a "ute," (utility truck; like a pickup truck with bed walls that fold down for easy access) and got down to business. One of our first big attempts was the Taylor family computer desk. It is a beautiful, solid Pine desk with plenty of storage space for disks or documents. Cate and I carried the massive hunk of wood out to the ute and loaded it up into the bed. We drove it the 90 seconds to our new place and looked at the two flights of stairs that we would have to traverse and summoned every muscle fiber Tommy Sheehan finely crafted for us in the bowels of Columbia's athletic complex. We heaved and lugged for what seemed like 45 minutes, but finally reached our door which we opened. Then we maneuvered the desk into position. The desk did not fit. We tried several other arrangements, but the desk was just too wide, deep, and long to fit. Dejected, we took the desk back down to the ute and to the Taylor home where it rests to this very day.

Having learned a valuable lesson in the previous story, we measured the Taylor refrigerator before attempting to haul it over to our place. Naturally, it was too large as well. So we engineered a swap with the Taylor's next door neighbor in which they would get a nearly brand new fridge and we would take their disco- era one and a few hundred dollars to sweeten the deal. We were in no position to complain since we still got a free refrigerator out the deal, however all of this transpired over the past couple of days... a couple of days after our ute rental had expired. Apparently, refrigerators must be transported upright, so putting it in the back of a long car was out leaving us with just one option; putting the fridge on a handtruck and wheeling it over to our place. Now, as I mentioned before, it takes about a minute and a half to drive from the old Taylor home to our new place, but we found out that it takes about 30 minutes to walk whilst wheeling a refrigerator. Undoubtedly, we were a bit of an odd sight in the late evening traipsing through the suburbs of Perth pushing and guiding a fridge down the sidewalk. Goodtimes.

I will post pictures of the completed apartment when I get a chance and I'll try to write more frequently, but who knows how often I'll feel compelled to write on this blog anymore. Like I mentioned in a previous post, this blog was really great when there was a set time on my journey to Australia and my life was very much an adventure, all the time; but now that I'll be living here for at least a few years, the thought of chronicling my day- to- day existence does not appeal to me at all.

But, only time will tell.

Take care!

Friday, September 11, 2009


I just realized that it has been nearly a month since my last post, and for this, I am sorry. But, to be candid, for once, I really enjoy telling stories when I write. Sometimes I can force a story out of some life event that might not otherwise be story- worthy, but I have to be in a pretty special mood. There is also the fact that I have just been busy and crafting a fine blog entry takes time.

With all of that said, I am going to just give a lil rundown of my life events over the past month or so...

- All four of my groomsmen have booked their flights to come to Perth for the wedding! Now all I need to do is find a place to live so they won't have to get hotel rooms! Sweet!

- I had a car crash. I was exiting a freeway and we had a green light, but the car in front of me stopped for some reason. Naturally, I stopped behind him, however the car behind me had other ideas and decided to keep driving right into my back bumper. Thankfully, no one in any of the cars was injured, but, my 20 year old Ford Laser is no longer with us. Although, the crash did highlight one of the little known safety features of the vehicle; upon impact, both of our seats flattened into the back seat preventing us from smacking our heads on the front dash. Ingenious.

- I have applied for temporary permanent residency in Australia! At our interview with the immigration department we were told that everything was in order, except my police clearances. My American background check was not sufficient, so I had to get fingerprinted and mail off the prints and 18 US dollars to the FBI to ensure my squeaky clean-ness. I also had to get a police clearance from the Australian Federal Police; which struck me as odd since I submitted my Western Australian police clearance which said, "Your name does not appear on the records of any Australian jurisdiction." And I had also been cleared for a working with children permit... ANYway, once I get and submit those two clearances, I was told that I should have my new visa and immigration status within a week!

- Because of my current immigration status (one year work visa, but only six months at any given employer) today is my last day for the City of Belmont. However, Monday is my FIRST day with Belmont City College! The great thing about this job transition is that my unused vacation days from the City of Belmont get paid out to me in a lump sum along with my final paycheck!

- Cate and I have booked a photographer for our wedding! Now all we need is: someone to organize flowers and a cake! And there's a chance that both of those aspects might be handled this weekend! Haha, obviously, I'm pretty excited about all of this, but really, I'm just excited for all the planning to be over and to just be married. To go on our honeymoon, to be able to take vacations together, to share a home... just a few more months!

- Cate and I are coming to America! Our flights leave Perth at 12:05am on September 23rd and arrive at 8pm on September 23rd. We are planning on filling nearly every waking moment with friends, food, and fiestas! Shoot me an email if you'll be in Saint Louis from the 23rd of September to the 6th of October or in New York City from October 6th to 10th.

- Both of our basketball teams made it to the playoffs and won our first games, but we both fell in the semi-finals. But looking on the bright side; Cate made the all- star team... without even practicing and/ or playing the whole season! She's just that dominant on defense, in rebounding, passing, and shooting that they had no choice but to select her! Well done.

Ok, I think that covers my life. I hope all is well where ever you are.

See (most of) you very soon!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wilderness Weekend: Through a lens

A couple weekends back, Cate, myself and five others ventured into the heart of southwestern Australia, to the Donnelly River region.  In retrospect, the two days, which seemed to packed to the brim, were really full of nothing and therefore, utterly relaxing.  Not that it really matters, but these pictures are displayed in the reverse order that they were taken.

The sign pretty much says it all; Victorian era technology AND million dollar views!  While we did not actually make it to the lighthouse because of time constraints (and getting lost), I have to wonder exactly which part of the lighthouse featuring the Victorian era technology, and more to the point, is that really something that you want to advertise?

This was the scene outside of our front porch each morning.  Kangaroos and Emus that have been around people so much that they just know where to go to get food.  In a way, this was nice, but after feeding the beasts for half an hour or so, it was inevitable that they would need to... remove the waste.  Needless to say, this created a stinky minefield as we left the house.

Roaring fireplace.  Logs and fire itself courtesy of yours truly (more on that later).

Go Catie, go!

Even though our axe was essentially a dull metal wedge welded to a lead pipe, I think chopping firewood just might have been my highlight of the weekend.  Once I started, I could not stop.  I chopped enough wood to last a winter... but we were only there for two nights, whoops.

Beer tasting at a local cidery (like a winery, but they work with apples to make hard ciders and apple juice).  Not sure why I took this picture, especially since this was not a cider tasting, but, to be honest all the ciders pretty much looked the same and I'm a sucker for a great photo op.

Not sure if you can tell in this shot, but Andie (Cate's brother) is riding a bike with no front tire.  Actually, that's not true, it has a front tire, it's just not attached to the wheel.  Good times.

Ugh!  Yeah, I grunt when I get my lift on.  It's so everyone can see how jacked and tan I am.

"This weighs, like, 15 pounds."

I'm not a huge fan of domesticated animals, let alone pseudo- wild ones in our vacation village, but this old kangaroo seemed harmless enough.

"Eat the seed from my mouth! Do it!  DO IT!"

Alright, that's it.  Take care!