Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fred & the Beagle

The VanderMeers took me on an excursion to the St Marks National Wildlife Refuge, for a 5 mile hike through the wetlands. It was perfect, and I could go on at length about the beauty of the park and flood you with too big, badly edited photographs, but instead I am going to share one incident.

We were walking by the larger lake, watching a clique of ducks set out from the shore. Tubby little black birds, they moved as a very tightly huddled group. Our comments scrambled mid-sentence as a much larger bird came flying in low to the water, a deep wingspan and shining white head.

"Is that a-?"

"That's a Bald Eagle!"

And not just a Bald Eagle, but a Badass Eagle (hereafter referred to as "Beagle").

Defying the laws of physics and matter, the ducks drew even closer together as the Beagle strafed over them. They paddled about in a panic, the flock splitting to confound the Beagle then unifying as the Beagle drew up for another pass. The Beagle hovered and feinted a couple of times, but the ducks remained united.

Except for Fred.

Fred decided to stick it out alone, and the Beagle figured if Fred was goinq to make things easy for him, he was okay with this. The Beagle dove down at Fred! However, Fred was a canny duck, he was all, "AHA! You shall not catch me!" and dove under water.

The Beagle, who was old hand at all this, was all, "Whatevs, you're gonna come up for air soon," and without further waiting the Beagle plunged into the lake.

Where, it must be said, he floundered about not at all unlike a graceless chicken, to the point I turned to ask my companions if he was in fact stuck and goinq to have to wade over to the shore to get out.

I did not give the Beagle enough credit. With his mighty wings he broke free of the water.

With Fred.

Nature is badASS.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"I'm not sipping on tea while typing this eating crumpets."

Earlier in the year I created a profile on that notorious dating site OkCupid, not because I was looking for anything, but because a friend of mine who shall remain anonymous told me a hilariously wrong bad not good story of a fleeting interaction she had on the site, and I just had to get me some of that.

Online dating gets a bad rap from the older generations. We still don't understand that society is online now, it is normal to meet and make friends online, and have them be genuine and true. It's no longer a weird or even shameful thing to have met your partner online. I've actually had a fantastic run on the site, I've met genuinely awesome people who I have kept as friends. Ace? Ace!

That said, I'm on it for the people watching. Below is a selection of messages I've received since changing my location to the US of A. I have responded to none of these. Some of them are examples of what not to do, some of them are "WTF?", and some of them are just plain amusing.

The next two are a single message.

The next two messages are from the same chap, one after the other.

I am a bit of a Bitchface McBitchy for putting these up for mockery, I know. I do acknowledge that a great many people dipping their toes into the world of online dating are looking for something specific, as opposed to just looking, and for those people this is Serious Business and therefore they are taking significant risks with their heart and happiness by putting themselves out there.

Good for you. You know what you want, and your out there getting it.

Keep a sense of humour though. When it comes down to it, there is nothing about dating that isn't funny.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dear Winston-Salem,

Footpaths. They're a thing.

Sir Tessa


Today I went strolling with a friend and his canine companion in the late afternoon, beside a creek and under the interstate. There was gridiron training, and children with sticks, and robins, and clean air.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Big Ol' Pile o' Panda

I completely failed to see anything of San Diego while I was there, and so don't really count the city has having been visited. Did, however, put aside a whole day for the zoo, which was so completely and utterly worth it, and maybe I should have put aside two days, because there was a lot of beasties I didn't see even though we tore arse around the zoo.

There are many photos, and they are not all of animal butt.

I was lucky enough to hit the Giant Pandas just as they were finishing up lunch, and as such the two on display were pretty active, and I managed to get this video of the most adorable and ineffective grooming you will ever see.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Metropolitan Museum of Art: Egypt

THERE IS A WHOLE FREAKING EGYPTIAN TEMPLE IN THE MET. A WHOLE TEMPLE. YES. WITH GRAFFITI AND ALL. A TEMPLE. PLUS MUMMIES AND SARCOPHAGI AND STUFF. WTF. The wonder of which a camera cannot capture. So you don't get to see those. There are various study halls around the Met in which bits and pieces of 'stuff', ie, "we're not sure what this is or it isn't intact enough for exhibition but is still of interest and value, so..." are crammed into display cabinets. This one swallowed me to distraction with all the interesting little bits and pieces, and it is photos of these inglorious little fragments that I am most enamored of.
Herbie did his best in the low light, but I still had to do some colour corrections. Badly. Eh!

High Line

The High Line is a nifty lil park on the west side of Manhattan, narrow and stretching some blocks north to south. The overhead railway lines, decommissioned and derelict, have been reclaimed and made over into something that is more a work of art than a park. It's a landscape sculpture of urban decay, floral hardiness and some fabulous design.

Sadly, my camera and my photographerbrains were not of a high enough skill to capture the awesome (also I couldn't get enough distance nor break in the people strolling), so here are just a couple of wee tasters.

The park was fairly busy even on a Monday morning, and I believe it when I'm told that on weekends and in summer it is almost a no go zone. There are plans to expand it with further lines reclaimed, and if they don't put a neat little bar in there it would be a shame.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Some of us die in sharks.

Foz: http://chronicfatigue.about.com/b/2011/11/16/do-sleep-problems-cause-fibromyalgia.htm?_inv_out=24&_inv_cp=1927025 (in response to this post)
Me: I'm rather inclined to think that sleep problems are a risk factor for EVERYTHING. Even getting hit by lightning.
Foz: Sleep problems = DEATH BY RABID WEASELS.
Foz: Because you could've run if you hadn't been so tired.

City Lights

Did a last minute dash up the Empire State Building and took a few snaps. I'm not particularly happy with the way any of them came out, the HS10 night mode is not...I probably just need to play with it more. At any rate, the city glows.
Not the same Bladerunner feel as Tokyo, but nevertheless surreal. Manhattan, she is very pretty at night. She sparkles with so many homes.

Goldtouch Go! Ergonomic Travel Keyboad

I've been using this keyboard for the past year and abit. It is the only keyboad out there tha is ergqonomic AND portable.

As you can see, it just craped itself.

I used t he exat same keyboad a work, and of course since it sa far more use, it did this ealier. GQot it replaed on waraty no problem. I don't hae the luxury this time aound. It wa, incidentally, the exactly same problem. Somethingq in the wiringq gqoes nuts, and suddenly the keys don't line up.

I've looked, but been unale to find ayone else reportingq on this.

Feelingq, ater tha lat post, ater statingq my only gqoal for the da wa to sit ad write my diay, thwated.

I've left my job, my home, my family, friends, loves and country. Scuttled my life to try build a new one, better suited to me now.

What more must I sacrifice?

Little wins. Let me have some little wins.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Traveling with Fibromyalgia

That I have deleted some six starting sentences for this post indicates that perhaps I am not yet ready to write about it yet.

To begin with, I am not as well versed on the effects of fibromyalgia as I should be. This ignorance was initially willful and deliberate; I was in denial about the whole thing and just didn't want to know, which is not a novel way with initially coping with the idea of a chronic condition.

Then tempus fugit and in the last couple of months in Melbourne I was busy failing to get my affairs in order for my departure and trying to see as many friends as possible. After that, well, travel is travel. I've been busy.

I can say with utter certainty that not spending 8+ hours a day sitting at the computer has alleviated my daily pain levels substantially.

I can say with certainty that lugging my rucksack and satchel around isn't really good for me, but so far I haven't done this for any great length of time. This will change as soon as I leave the US, but given most of my stays are several nights at a time, there is plenty of time to let my muscles rest.

Reasonable suspicion that sleeping on so many air mattresses, couches and sofa beds with all sorts of different pillows isn't doing me any good, but the effects haven't resulted in any impediment yet.

I don't remember what it was to live without perpetual pain and discomfort, and I know that sounds dramatic, but I don't want it to be taken that way. I just don't. Things seem to be holding steady, and that doesn't mean I'm feeling good, it simply means I am not stuck in the grinding cycle of work followed by aggravated muscles and pain, building up over the week until the weekend when I got enough time out - only to repeat it again. Things still hurt. I'm sitting here today, with the express intention of not going out but writing this and putting things in my diary, and I know I will pay for this tomorrow.

The coming price doesn't upset me as much as it used to, because now I have the time to recover.

Fatigue, however, has begun to worry me greatly. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are very closely tied, and do tend to come hand in hand.

I am flattened. Excitement and wide-eyed curiosity got me through San Diego and New York, although toward the end of my time in the Big Apple I desperately wanted to stop the ride and get off. North Carolina has being a wonderful balm of quiet and calm, and to the friends who have opened their homes to me I have no words. Thank you. For comfortable silence and big couches and your wonderful delightful pets. Thank you for letting me be boring and sleep. Thank you.

And yet, it doesn't feel like enough. As though there simply isn't enough rest in all the rest fields of the whole world for me to feel fully rested. My need to sit, not to catch my breath but simply to use less energy, happens far more frequently than it should.

I want to blame this on being unfit and failing to eat and drink properly (the latter of which always happens when traveling). Except I'm sitting here now, having done nothing but watch the #OWS hashtag and drink tea, and I still feel flatter than a pancake.

I don't know if I'm being reasonable or alarmist in even considering CFS, especially considering my own fibromyalgia is...

...I was going to say mild, but it isn't, is it?

I'm just good at ignoring it.

At any rate, my advice to people traveling with either of these conditions is to allow yourself plenty of opportunities for rest, whether that means allotting yourself time to sit on the train between museums or blocking out entire days to do nothing. Unfortunately, New York simply has TOO MUCH IN IT which makes not going out and doing ALL THE THINGS very hard, but, you know, try.

Common sense is, sometimes, not that common. Especially when you have shit to prove.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Hal III is dead. Long live Hal III.

There is no middle ground with memory and iPods at the moment, the jump goes from 60GB (which is too little) to 160GB (which is waaaaaay too much). As such I hit the nearest Apple Store and made an appointment with the Genius Bar with hopes of resuscitating Hal, because I am traveling and in transit and I bloody need all my music with me at all times.

They had some massive global infinite database which, when Hal's serial number was entered into, produced his date of purchase; 24 December 2006.

Five years old, okay, yeah, I guess we've had a good run.

He really was dead though, and I wasn't interested in spending heaps of money on a new shiny thing, so I then visited a second-hand dealer, and found a 120GB classic for significantly cheaper. Still money I wasn't intending on spending, but not a frivolous purchase I think.

Hal IV is all set up. Before syncing, 'Owner's iPod' indicated it had two songs stored upon it.

Museum of Sex

I found the Museum of Sex completely by accident, noticed it across the road one night while waiting to get into a bar, and was of course intrigued. There are a great many things I wanted to do in New York that I failed to do, but I'm glad I spontaneously did this one. Accompanying me was a dear lady who I shall leave anonymous because she may have dignity. Or not. I know not!

At any rate, I was not sure what the policy on photography was, and so was stealing shots with my phone, hence the lack of quality.

We nearly didn't make it to the museum, so enthralled were we by what was on offer in the museum store. This book was along the lines of being 'your daily fortune in sex positions'. This being my birthday.

The museum itself is somewhat unfocused. All the exhibits are about sex, but it didn't seem to know exactly what it was trying to present. The first floor looked at the portrayal of sex in American cinema, the rise of ratings, censorship and the porn industry, without telling a whole lot.

This was followed by sex in art, combined with sexual practices. Which included robot bestiality.

And early vibrators. Which. Look. On the right is a hair dryer. In the middle is an egg beater. And that thing on the end? Who knows. Apparently the first vibrator was steam-powered. WAS IT EVER.

I won't lie, the Real Dolls were incredibly unsettling. They felt wrong and hideous, and the vacant, stoned, somewhat catatonic expression on the guy's face was not at all a mood aid.

The floor that concerned itself with sexual practices in wild animals was, however, brilliant and quite fascinating. Definitely the draw card. There was a lot of interesting bits and pieces in there, and I learned quite a bit. I wasn't sure what the koalas were doing there though. They were just on the wall. Nothing to say why.

You read that heading right.


Everyone knows pandas don't have sex.

There was an exhibition devoted to one fellow whose name I have entirely forgotten, who was a raging homosexual, keeping a 'Stud File' on all the men he slept with, and doing a lot to promote homosexuality in the arts. I don't remember the total, but he got around. I am letting the team down in comparison.

That said, I have and will never keep pubic hair.

This particular index card records the details of a daisy chain, listing who did who. I'm particularly taken with the last line, "I did all...Kinda dull."

There were I think some missed opportunities to look at sexual practices in non-Western societies, as well as looking at the role and attitude towards sex in international art, instead of just giving it a little head nod in comics at the very end. Still, I was very entertained.

I did not buy this. Regret.