Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Did you know?

I just watched the following video, and while I found it somewhat interesting, it was more the imagined reactions of the people it was designed to update (read: under informed Americans) that entertained me.

The rest of this post was going to be an hilarious textual impersonation of a stupid American after watching that video, unfortunately, I'm just not that funny. And I don't want to offend the six American people who've visited my blog (I do not think any of you are stupid, even though I don't know who four of you are!)

I guess my 'meh' reaction (rather than being freaked out by the changes it depicts and predicts) comes from being part of "Generation Y". I've grown up with a different attitude towards things like technology and employment than people born in older generations ("duh," you say, "that's kind of the point of determining different generations by letters at the end of the alphabet".) Anyway, when the video says that kids today will have 10-14 jobs BEFORE THEY'RE 38 (duh duh duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhnnn you have to click that link!) I just think, well, I've been working since I was 15 and I've had 8 jobs (I don't include the dire week of telemarketing, and have included the one I'm about to start). I expect to exceed 14 jobs by the time I'm 38 (which still seems a loooooooooong way away) because there are just too many things I want to do, and places I want to work, for me to tie myself down to one organisation in one place for the rest of my life.

And all that stuff about India having more "honour roll" kids than America even HAS kids, or that over 4 times as many children are born in China than America in 5 minutes...it just rubbed me the wrong way I suppose.

This is not the blog post I had envisioned when I started typing! In light of that video, I suppose my message is this: don't be afraid of change, embrace change, change is good. Don't be afraid of technology, embrace technology, technology is good. And finally, don't be afraid of people, embrace people, people are good. Deep...

Creative juices

It's my very dear friend Julie's birthday today - I know she doesn't usually read my blog because her dial-up (pfft!!) doesn't let her display all the fascinating things I put up here. But HAPPY BIRTHDAY JULZ all the same!

This year, I thought I'd get a bit creative. Those of you who know me will know that I have musical abilities, and used to be very creative when it came to composing pieces for the piano, clarinet, or any instrument really. I'm arty in that respect. I am not, however, at all artistically inclined in the drawing/painting side of things. My granddad was a talented painter; we have some of his paintings around the house, my Mum can draw well, and my brother is also very talented (he designed the cover of a book that got published). I really missed the boat on artisticness (well, except for that time in year 2 where I did a drawing of a rainforest scene, complete with a blue-winged kingfisher that was totally awesome!)

Anyway, what drove me to decide to do something artistic for Julie's birthday present is still a mystery to me, but I decided that I wanted to paint her two canvasses that she could hang (or not) in her apartment, once she's done her remodelling and redecorating. I've thought long and hard about this, and have an awesome idea in my head. It's been there for a while now, but what with being unemployed and all, I just haven't had time to do anything about it... Enter today, the big day, and I had only gotten as far as purchasing one canvas. It was time for action. I picked up a couple of tubes of acrylic paint when I was wondering through the Queen St Mall in Brisbane earlier (had to go on a train adventure up there to go to the travel doctor. Fun.) and then raced over to the shops when I got home to pick up some paint brushes and another canvas.

Here is today's progress half way through:

Aaaaaaaaaand completed:

That's today's progress kids! One black, and one silver canvas. Now, I could call it modern art (as I so often whinge about modern art and how I could paint a canvas a block colour and sell it for a fortune) and hand it over tomorrow night as it is, however, I have more artistic plans in store. Uh oh. As I said, in my head it looks awesome...tune in tomorrow to see how it turns out!!

This little piggy had roast pork (oh the irony)

So by the looks of things, I'm off to another muslim area of the world, which means no (or limited access to) pork, bacon or generally delicious parts of a piggy. Every time I left Bangladesh the first thing I looked to eat was bacon, the forbidden fruit if you will. I am to pork, what Naomi Watts was to lamb...

So anyway, my very considerate mother made a fantastic roast pork last night, complete with apple sauce. I remember posting just days ago how important apple sauce is. Can you guess which plate is mine...?

Let's see that close up...

Mmmmmmmmm, roast pork with apple sauce, mmmmmmmmm (*Homer drool*)

Monday, March 30, 2009

International Relations explained

I spent four and a half years studying international relations, and as such, I hold a master's degree in the subject.

In the years since, I have of course realised, that perhaps it wasn't the most useful course of study to take (but I sure am glad I've got the piece of paper!), and this has just been reinforced by the following video. Much of what I studied, funnily enough, was how different players interact with each other, of which war has been a common thread.

So I give you: the history of modern warfare illustrated by food. It all makes sense now...If you need some help figuring out which country each food represents, check the cheat sheet.


After otters,

dugongs are one of my favourite creatures. So a video of a manatee is pretty close to being uber cool!

And you all must know that I'm a big fan of pigs (please do not send any type of pig merchandise...)

I find the next clip absolutely hilarious, watch it and then the one below it, see if you can spot the difference.

If for some reasons the videos stop working again you can follow these links

Stealth Cat
Not so stealth cat

I challenge you

To go to this page and NOT smile or let out an awwwwwww.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I love the new map thing

I can account for the visitors appearing on the map from Vietnam, Bangladesh, Singapore, La Junta (Colorado, USA) and even for that star that's floating in the ocean off the coast of Africa (that's a friend who's currently in Sri Lanka but Mr Map got a bit confused and put him on what could be Sao Tome e Principe).

But I've also had a visit from people in Grand Rapids, Harrisonburg and Odenton in the US (I had to google where these places are: Michigan, Virginia, and Maryland respectively), and someone in Macau, who I either don't know, or do know but don't know exactly where you live. Anyway... g'day guys!! Check back in a couple of weeks, I promise it will be more interesting!!

Annie Lennox - Cover Girl

I heard a while ago that Annie Lennox was covering a song by my favourite band Ash. I've been a big fan since about 1996 when I first heard their punk/pop/rock classic "Kung Fu". There have been many albums since then, including the fantastic "Free All Angels" which included the single "Shining Light" (incidentally, the first Ash song I ever heard played on commercial radio).

This is the song Annie Lennox chose to cover, and I just found it on youtube, and...I'm disappointed. Annie Lennox (for some reason I feel like I can only call her by her full name) is an incredible singer, and she looks amazing for however old she is now. But the song has been butchered. I don't know how I feel about the potential commercial success of an Ash song being so, well, commercial.

Annie Lennox's version can be found here

And this is the original (and the best, though the film clip isn't the greatest)

They're my favourite

Otter pups!! (From one of my favourite sites)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Twitter explained

It all makes so much sense now....(for some reason the video didn't embed, so you'll have to follow the link)

So high above you

As you can imagine, I was in a pretty happy mood yesterday. The sheer relief of being reminded that I'm an employable gal was huge! Mum, Dad and I had already planned to take a trip up to the Q1 building in Surfers Paradise, but the evening was much more of a celebration than we'd planned.

77 floors up, the view up and down the Gold Coast was spectacular - you just can't help but be in a good mood when you've gotten a great job offer and you live in a place as beautiful as this.

Looking north, up past the Southport Spit towards South Stradbroke Island

And looking south/west - I hadn't actually realised how much water there is on the coast, so many canals (and a bit of flooding in spots as well)

The sunset took a lot longer than expected, but it was a brilliant orange

And as the lights came on, I noticed the Surfers City (Shitty) Motel, (it's the ugly brown 4 storey job at the bottom of the pic) where I spent 5 days of underage (relatively tame) debauchery during Schoolies Week (which was 10 years ago this year...*groan*)

And here's the Q1 building lit up...there are quite a few storeys missing from this photo.

We headed to Food Fantasy at the Casino for dinner and gorged on delicious prawns and roast pork (with cinnamony apple sauce *insert Homer drooling noise here*) and 20 different desserts and cheeses....

On the very rare occasion that we do go to the casino, Dad and I always put a dollar into the pokies. Well, we were down to our last 10 cents or so on the Dolphin Sunset machine, and when I pushed the button, the magic 3 treasure chests turned up...FREE SPINS!!! And just a few spins later, I got them again, MORE FREE SPINS!! We ended up winning a whopping $12! After we took most of the money out, save for a dollar, it turned out I had the winning touch and scored the free spins again...with another huge winning of about $4. That's my second biggest pokie win ever...the biggest was $19. I just don't have the patience, or the cash flow, to fund a poker machine addiction!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Time waster

I'll write about my lovely evening in the morning, but wanted to share this sweet, innocent time waster I stumbled upon. It's called Tiny Grow and you can visit yourself and figure out what happens - it's a very nice way to waste a few minutes if you've got a few to waste.

This was my finished product:


It had to happen eventually


I got a call from RedR this morning, telling me I'm off to the Philippines for 3 months with the World Food Programme as a Field Monitor somewhere in Mindanao. I didn't expect to be deployed through the RedR register so quickly, and I'm really impressed with how quickly things have, and are moving.

I'll be leaving by the end of next week, until mid-late June. Awesome.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday night is the new black

Wednesday night has become the best television viewing night of the week on the ABC. Spicks & Specks, The Gruen Transfer, the new Lawrence Leung's Choose Your Own Adventure, and of course, David and Margaret are back with At the Movies. Choose Your Own Adventure was hilarious, barring the two "pick-up artists" he met in L.A (*shudders*).

Lawrence is a total geek, but very lovable...make sure you watch next week, or check him out online.

And I raaaaaaaaaaaaaan

I've been feeling a bit down in the dumps, so I decided that a little walk/jog might get the endorphins going and cheer me up a bit (I really miss jazzercise). It wasn't a very long walk, only about 2kms, I managed to jog about 500 metres before I was coughing and spluttering. Yep, I'm more unfit than I thought I was, and it also probably wasn't the best idea to try jogging when I'm still getting over a cold. No excuses though, it was a pretty pathetic effort. I do hate jogging, though I wish it were something that I could do better.

New widget

Check out the very bottom of the page - there's a map there that should register where you're reading this from...I wish I'd found this earlier while some of the people I know who read this (all 5 of you) were still living in cool places. Ah well.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tweet tweet

You'll notice on the sidebar that I've got a new box, which is an update feed direct from Twitter. Yes, I've succumbed to technological pressures and signed up again, my username is very creatively, carlysheehan. So you can go to my twitter page and you'll not only see my updates, but also those of people I'm "following", i.e. I see their updates on my screen, like MC Hammer and my cool friend Kirsty. Or if you don't care about them, then only my updates will appear here on this very blog.

Basically, it's just another way to keep myself entertained...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Home again, naturally

It's interesting how I didn't really suffer from jet lag when I got to Geneva, but can't sleep at night since I've been home.

My apologies to Rowan for my atrocious spelling in regards to the Brandenburg Gate, which I referred to as the Brademburg and the Brandemburg Gate in various posts. All entries have been corrected. And you'll also be happy to know Rowan that I didn't steal any of the Berlin Wall - I bought a bit for my Dad instead!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Coz I'm all about value

I love the East Berliners - unsatisfied with normal green men that tell them when to cross the road and normal red men that tell them when to stop, they put their own quirky spin on things many moons ago.

But back to the day's news. First of all, I hate phone interviews. Particularly when you're not at home surrounded by your usual interview propaganda. And when the people on the other end of the line have very strong accents and you struggle to understand them. Anyway, I had a phone interview for a job this morning, I can't really say how it went, but cross your fingers for me anyway.

Then, after a nice birthday phone call to Dad it was time to hit the subway (which is above ground...) and get myself down to the Brandenburg Gate to join a walking tour. About 4.5 hours later I got home! It was fantastic. The company is "New Berlin" and they run free walking tours everyday. The guides work on tips so if you don't feel like they deserve your money, then you don't pay. I didn't have that problem with Louis, a young Brit, who was very enthusiastic about German history and very funny as well.

The group went to a lot of places, some I'd already visited over the weekend, but it was good to hear the history behind these places. One of my favourite stops was a carpark.

Yup, just your typical run of the mill carpark, with broken glass and dog turds scattered around. What's interesting about this carpark is that Hitler's bunker was underneath it. Barring a relatively new (small) sign, there is absolutely no indication that this is a site of historical significance at all - a move by the government to prevent extremist groups using the site to pay homage to Hitler. Clever. And quite a fitting end for old Adolf as well.

Another interesting memorial is at Bebelplatz, where the Nazis persuaded students and professors at Humboldt University to fetch 20,000 books from the library which they then proceeded to burn. You've all heard about this I'm sure. The memorial is a simple perspex square in the ground which lets passersby look into a sealed room, with nothing in it except for enough empty bookshelves to house 20,000 books. Very simple, very effective.

It was also interesting to hear that the students at Humboldt university have a book sale everyday outside the building, selling the works of the authors (primarily Jews and homosexuals) whose books were burnt by the Nazis. They sell the books for no profit in a constant apology for what happened there.

It was a brilliant afternoon strolling around Berlin and learning about its history, both modern and less so, and I highly recommend Louis as a tour guide (if you can manage to overlook his tendency to make up words, like "toleration"). He probably made a mint out of our group today, but I figured 4 hours of infotaining guidance was worth 20 euros from me. Only one more night left...I wonder if we can go back to Dr. Pong...

There's still time

For me to find the cure for cancer, write the great Australian novel and of course find the solution for world peace. I've got about 4 months left to do so, because according to new research, 27 is the age where mental capabilities start their decline.

Guess it's a good thing I've got all this time on my hands...

Monday, March 16, 2009

The name's Pong...Doctor Pong.

There's a non descript doorway in downtown Berlin, it would be easy to walk straight past it; there is no sign, no indication of what's inside, just a doorway.

When you open that door and step inside, the result is even more dingy. A grafitied room with a hidden doorway. Only the perspex window gives it away. Once you slide that open, you enter the world of Dr. Pong.

It's so simple. There's a big room with a single ping pong table in the middle. There's a dinky little bar that sells cheap beer (e2.50), a DJ that played what sounded like Turkish music, and a few couches, but no-one hangs out around there. It's all about the pong. And this isn't ordinary ping pong people....

This is all-in pong. At the peak of the night, there were at least 20 people walking around the table taking it in turns to hit the ball. If you missed a shot or hit it out, then you were out for the rest of the round. As more and more people sit down, the pace picks up. When there are three people left, you're running around the table like a mad man, until only two remain. Then they play off, first to 5 points. And once that's done, the paddle is banged twice on the table, indicating that it's time for everyone to join in again.

I haven't had that much fun in a long time!! I wasn't the worst player in the room (that honour went to "black turtleneck man", who was absolutely terrible but so interested in the game...he was often seen sitting in his chair, leaning forward, his head moving left and right and nodding a lot. I made it to the final once, and unsurprisingly lost. There were quite a few players who took their pong very seriously, bringing their own paddles and pulling out some impressive moves in the finals.

I can't imagine how busy Dr. Pong would be on a Friday or Saturday night, but the crowd on Sunday night were great. It was a great cast of characters - along with black turtleneck man, there was messenger boy, Che Guevara, and Andre the Giant. If I had that entrepreneurial spirit, I'd look into setting up Dr. Pong at home...it's a winner.

I've seen this in a few places

And cackle everytime I watch it...


All the pics are up on my photo website

And the walls came tumbling down

What a day Ingy and I had today. First stop was the Mauerpark Flohmarkt - a big flea market full of a lot of crap and some interesting things as well. It was a dreary morning which meant that there weren't a lot of people around - apparently in summer it's absolute gridlock in the market, so it made the spits of rain more bearable.

Next stop was a short tram ride away to the Berlin Wall memorial. A lot of very interesting photographs documenting the history of the wall, and a viewing platform four or five flights of stairs up which meant you could see over the wall into what was behind it...another couple of walls!

By this stage it was time for some sort of refreshment and a bit of warming up, so the logical choice was Fassbender & Rausch chocolate shop and restaurant. Wow. I'd never drunk hot dark chocolate before, and my life has been transformed. There were 26+ years of life before hot dark chocolate, and now, everything is different.

Back downstairs, and I felt like a kid (or this kid) in a candy store...

yep, that's the Reichstag (parliament) building made out of chocolate. There was also the Titanic (because it's so very German...) and the Brandenburg Gate. Crazy delicious!

We then somberised the tone with a visit to the holocaust memorial. You've probably all read about the controversies surrounding the memorial (like the makers of the anti-graffiti coating on the concrete pillars being the same company that produced the gas that was used to kill Jews), but it all adds up to an intriguing experience.

The testimonies and stories held inside the centre are heartbreaking and amazing. It made me quite angry to recollect the article I read in the Weekend Australian magazine a few weeks ago about the holocaust denial movement.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

German pop idol

Is totally awesome. It is so bad. An overweight man singing Alannah Myles's "Black Velvet"...too much funny!

Pottering in Potsdam

Ingy and I headed out to Potsdam today, which is a very quaint little town, and according to Wiki has the same status as Windsor does in England. To get our energy up for the walk that was to come, we downed a ginormous bratwurst each...mmmmm...bratlicious!

which gave Ingy the strength to hoist up a random rhino...ah, zee Germans, they're a crazy bunch!

It was a lovely stroll through the grounds of a massive park, which housed a few very impressive castles. But most exciting was watching this cat watching the ducks...no matter how much he wanted them, he wasn't going to pounce.

Unfortunately, my lesbian shoes were killing my feet and legs by this point in time (I'd worn them because my other shoes had hurt my feet yesterday, doh!) but nothing, NOTHING, could detract from the awesomeness that was just a short train ride away...IKEA!!! It doesn't matter where you go in the world, IKEA is always a magical place. So magical in fact, that I bought these...

Bright orange slippers! And oh so comfortable. If only I could wear these outside the house tomorrow...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Baby it's cold outside (and it's bloody well raining too)

So here are a few photos...

The view from the front of my hotel in Geneva

One of the exhibits at the DDR Museum (about life in East Berlin) - group potty sessions were a socialist indoctrination method - kindergarteners all had to go potty together and had to wait until everyone was finished.

Here's something you just don't see often enough - an accordion player wearing an eye patch (near the Brandenburg Gate)

Friday, March 13, 2009

German engineering - lives up to the hype actually

My flight to Frankfurt this morning was quite uneventful. I couldn't understand why, in a relatively small plane (granted, it did have a business class section), that was not full by any stretch, I was given the window seat in the last row (about row 36). Strange.

It was extremely easy once I got into Frankfurt to find the rail office and sort out my travel pass and find the platform for my train to Hanover. Not only did it show up on time, but it left on time too! Amazing! Apart from the smelly man who sat next to me, it was quite a pleasant couple of hours. I then swapped trains to Berlin and my old friend Ingrid managed to find me once I arrived. I should note that my mobile has decided that it doesn't like Germany, so her finding me wasn't as easy as it should have been!

So it's cold and rainy and depressing, but that's ok...for tonight. Tomorrow I'll just have to deal with it and get out there and experience Berlin. And all I have to remember to get back to Ingy's place is to turn right at the sex shop...brilliant!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My brain is a giant sponge

It's been a very interesting two days on this course. A LOT of information - there are points where I totally freak out and wonder why the hell they selected me for this course, and then others (let's hope it the majority) where I realise how awesome I am. It's been mentioned a couple of times over the past 2 days that it's great to be a good generalist...it was so nice to hear that there's nothing wrong with not knowing what you wanted to do with your life so you picked a useless degree to do and have somehow managed to make it work! :-) Today is the last day, which I can't quite believe, there's still so much to learn!

Tomorrow I'm off to Berlin!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Adventure in Air Travel part 93

I spent a lot of time on planes and in airports in the last 48 hours. Most of it was very boring. Particularly the 7 hours in Bangkok airport where there is absolutely no padded seating (though an hour foot and back massage was a great time killer!).

Anyway, I was once again reminded of how small the world is. At Brisbane airport I had a (comfy) seat and noticed an older woman fussing around with her bag. So I squeezed over and invited her to sit down. We got to chatting, as you do - she asked where I was going and we got onto the fact that I'm an aid worker. Turns out she was off to Nepal with the Fred Hollows Foundation. I caught a glimpse of her boarding pass and saw her name. "Oh, are you related to such and such?" I asked, a woman with the same surname who works at FHF who I met many times at my old job who's a right laugh. "Yes, she's my sister." So then we had a nice time sharing stories about her sister.

I was very disappointed with Thai Airways on the 12 hour flight from Bangkok to Frankfurt...no personal entertainment system. And that was the flight I was determined not to sleep on to adjust my body clock! I managed to get through two and a half books, and make polite conversation to the two German lesbians I was seated next to. It must have been fate as I was wearing my newly dubbed "lesbian shoes"...it's a long story. But I'm not a lesbian....and in the words of Seinfeld, "not that there's anything wrong with that".

And speaking of zee Germans...I was really not impressed when they took the jar of crunchy peanut butter out of my carry on (of course, I'm only travelling with carry on!) and told me it was a liquid. It's not a liquid!! Australian security didn't mind. The Thais, who are very strict on liquids, didn't mind. Why did zee Germans have to take the peanut butter that I'd purchased for my friend?? I just had to clarify that I'd bought it for someone else and that I don't normally travel with a jar of peanut butter...because that would be weird...

Right, it's very apparent that I'm rambling, obviously the jet lag is taking hold...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Some (non self involved) exciting news

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is a huge step for the international justice system; it's the first warrant issued against a serving head of state. While it's a really encouraging step, the warrant has resulted in the immediate expelling of at least six major aid agencies in Darfur.

I just can't understand: Obviously al-Bashir is a monster who is responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of people over the past six or so years - and this has been advertised to the world with this indictment. Wouldn't there be one media savvy person in his administration that says "wait a minute, you're being charged with crimes against humanity...what say we don't expel the aid agencies that are keeping hundreds of thousands of people alive because we're unable and unwilling to, and then we'll look like doing everyone a favour?"

Yes, I've just over simplified a very complex situation, but it frustrates me so greatly...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Shprexh-en zee eng-lish?

I'm a bit excited. I'm heading off to Geneva on the weekend - I'm not so excited about Geneva, because I've already been there 3 times, and I'm not actually going to be in Geneva, I'm going to be in a Best Western hotel 20km outside of the city where I've also stayed before. The only thing the place has got going for it is being a stroll away from a gigantic supermarket that has about five aisles of chocolate.

So, I'm not so excited about Geneva, but am I excited about why I'm going. It's a three day UN training course on information management, and they selected moi to attend - at their expense. Awesome. And maybe one day (as long as I don't stuff things up royally during the course), they'll actually deploy me as an information manager somewhere. That's pretty awesome too. And what is also pretty awesome, is that they didn't have any problems with me extending my stopover for an extra five days...in Germany.

I've never been to Germany, so that's pretty cool. What's even cooler is that I have an old friend living in Berlin who I haven't seen in a couple of years who I'm going to visit. How cool is that!! And she speaks fluent German, so all I have to remember is how to say the subject above and make my way from Frankfurt to Berlin, and then she can show me around. Cool!! I've always thought Berlin would be a pretty great city, and by all accounts it is. I'm just wondering if I can take a hammer and chisel in my carry on (as if I'd check a bag for a 10 day trip...pffffft!) to get myself a piece of the wall...

In a nutshell, it's all awesome and cool.