I have had a bit of fun the last couple of days with the Jet Punk world quiz, where you have 12 minutes to name all 196 nations of the world (officially there are 195, but they count Taiwan as a sovereign nation. That’s an interesting political issue that I won’t be going into.) Any places/nations that are territories of a sovereign nation (for example, French Guiana, Greenland) don’t count, and it’s the UK, not Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland.
I found that my weak spots were Africa and Eastern Europe, but after lots of drills, I am able to get all 196, which includes the small city states of the world (like Vatican City.)
There is also the 50 United States challenge- keep in mind, if you read the comments, that most Americans memorise these at primary school.
And for the crazies: World capitals Quiz.
From Melbourne, Google maps suggests that the quickest way (time-wise) to Forest Edge is via the Monash and Princes Freeways, before taking the road to Neerim. Following these directions, you see a sign that says “Neerim East Road” and since this is the next turn in you directions, you think that this is your turn. This is incorrect. As you can see in the picture, Neerim East road loops. You want the other end of the road. I got very lost and explored a lot of the country side and forest roads before working out where I was and why all the roads were “wrong” to what I was expecting.
It is possible to go up Sheffield Road if you take the first turn onto the Neerim East road.
You might be headed to The Forest Edge Music Festival, or to a camp there; and find these directions useful.
So, this website is moving to a new server, thanks to the generosity of my host and all round good guy. This means that there might be some down time, but when the website is switched back on you will still be able to drop in to creativehedgehog.com for this blog. To make the move easier, I’ve switched off comments temporarily, so I don’t lose any in the move.
Your regular broadcast will resume shortly.
So, after working at Eastland all morning, I walked out to my car, in the staff car park, and thought, hmm. something looks funny. The bumper is a bit skew. Some person had hit my car on the curb side and crunched my head light. My guess is that it was done when reversing for a car space.
The damage doesn’t make me too angry, I mean, it will need to be fixed, but it isn’t a brand new car with delicate paint work. (I hope theirs was.) No, what makes me maddest, is the fact that they didn’t leave a note. Nothing! So inconsiderate.
But I feel better now after expressing my anger and letting it go.
The trip officially hit the “one month to go” mile mark on Sunday, and we are heading east. While we are traveling North at the moment (look out Europe! We’ll be rushing through!) We’re heading south after that, witha wiggle back to the west, we’ll be South East bound in a few weeks, and no wiggling around (besides a stop in Singapore) till we hit home.
While we are enjoying the trip and don’t really want it to end, on the other hand we’re looking forward to settling down somewhere for longer than 4 nights in the same place.
As I have the internet at the moment, I’ll share some of my observations about the UK.
- Loos. Public Conveniences. Toilets. They have funny ideas about them here.
- There must be a budding inventor or engineer working in every council. In every single public loo I’ve been in, (well, just about anyway) there has been a different way of locking the door. In the door, out of the door, slide handle, spin over lock, and a hundred little variations besides.
- Sometimes, you have to pay. it is terrible when you really NEED, dash around the corner and find that you need a very specific coin. ARRRGH! We found an alternate option when it would cost 30p (that’s about 65 aussie cents).
- Hand drying: paper towel. And/Or: air dryer. These need to have some OOMPH to them, (hooray Xlerator’s “Feel the Power” and Dyson’s “air blade”) not half heartedly whisper out the almost “trickle” of air.
- Flush properly please, without taking half the world’s fresh water supply with it please.
- A plus for UK toilets is the standards of cleanliness, you can be in the middle of no where and the toilets are still pretty good- even in the cities as well!
- Sinks- push and auto taps should be set to give at least a “Happy Birthday’s” (or ABC song) length of water, not a little dribble before you have to hit it again. and again. And, again again. (Those songs are long enough for you to wash your hands properly, like for working in a restaurant kitchen.)
- Some people complain about having two taps for hot and cold water (or cold and freezing sometimes) but I don’t
- Oh, and make sure there is more than one toilet at a location!
- Road signs- often unclear and or hidden under leaves/branches/other misc. foliage. We’ve done so many “oops-turn-a-rounds” that we’ve got a new round-a-bout code: right round means take the exit-minus-1 and “double back” means go all the way round so we’re facing opposite to the way we came. Better than the US, but Australia still does it better.
Well that’s me for the moment, let me know what you think as always! Have I incredibly offended the Brits/Poms/Scots/Welshies/Irish? (Grin.)
More updates as internet availability happens. International Broadcaster’s conference and the Apple Expo, so that might be interesting enough to be blog worthy.
Travelling is an interesting way to spend 3 months- as is the packing up that comes before that. Hence the lack of blog posts, twitter updates or emails.
We are about half way through now, and we’ve made some interesting observations:
- In the USA, the public toilets try and have at least one thing automated. This could be auto water, hand dryers, auto towel dispensers or of course, the un-nerving auto-flush.
- Lots of places offer free wifi in the United States.
- Everyone has a look alike, and that look alike lives in Canada. These aren’t identical twins, just people with similar features to people you know back home- perhaps with a different hair colour, etc.
- Northern Ireland is really nice, really quiet and green.
- You should always check the weather forecast before sleeping in a tent. (Learned this in Republic of Ireland.)
- If you are in the UK in “nice” weather, expect road works.
Over all, I like travelling, though I am looking forward to getting back to Australia.
Let me tell you about a car-related adventure I have had. It involves laughter, a cold late night, chewing gum and a rescue.
First though, a bit of background. My car has been a bit thirsty lately, not for petrol, but actually for water. There was something wrong with the cooling system. However, I wasn’t letting that ruin my life, I was just used to carrying water in my car, and topping up regularly. This particular day was the day that two of my friends were getting married (I had the privilege of being a greeter), so I wore my nice blue dress and did my hair and make up. While I had nice heeled sandals, but had sneakers in my car to wear for driving. I also had a jacket to keep me warm. After driving to the church (in Mitcham) for the ceremony, I had to get across town to the reception place in Eltham.
I was almost there, when my car started to complain. I pulled over, and after letting it cool, went to top up the radiator. To my horror, I didn’t have enough water in my car, so had to ask at a near by house for some. I then found where I was supposed to go and made it to the reception.
After we had farewelled the happy couple, it was time to go home. I checked the water, and filled my bottle of water in the fountain. This time I had my friend with me- she needed a lift. We got so far, and had to stop again. This time I could see a leak… a big leak in the top hose. I had some gum in my glove box, so we chewed up a piece each, and my friend went and asked for some water. We used a strip of fabric from my old oily rag to tie around the gum patch.
Careful driving got us much closer to home, but still not enough. There was steam everywhere, and so we pulled over and called the RACV. (Free roadside assist for 17,18&19 year olds hooray!) Then came time to wait. We waited, in the cold car, talking about random stuff. (Like whether the RACV repair man would be cute or not.)
The RACV man arrived in his truck, and boy, were we glad to see him! At this point we could see the funny side to things, like chewing gum to repair (didn’t work well) and stealing water from a decorative fountain! (Cuteness? Well, more cute than not.)
He fixed the hose, but noticed a deeper, more troubling cause of the issues- something to do with the cylinder head. He suspected the head gasket. Well, I drove home, dropped my friend off on the way, and went to bed. We took the car to the radiator place, and got a brand new radiator. However, we had issues again, and took it to the mechanic. He diagnosed the problem- not the gasket, but the head itself. I needed a new one. Hooray for Dads and their wallets!
Well, that was the adventure I had- and yes, I love those flashing yellow lights that say “you’re rescued!”
Yes, another half finished draft from ages ago now finished.
Combination of writer’s block and blogger’s bug led me to finish this old draft.
This past Novemeber I was able to go up to Sydney and chill with a friend from way back and celebrate her 21st. This gave me the opportunity to ride on various forms of transport (I only needed to work in flying, a boat and a motorcycle/cycle to have covered everything)
I traveled on foot, on a few Melbourne trains, on a Greyhound bus, on a couple of Sydney trains, a Sydney bus and in a ’79 Kingswood ute.
I have been commuting on Melbourne trains for almost two years now, and have only ridden Sydney trains a couple of times, so my comment isn’t 100% qualified, but this is my experience and opinion.
The thing I love about Sydney trains is that they are are double-decker. The doors lead on to a middle height floor, then you can go up or down. I was never crowded on the trains in Sydney, because there is lots of room. The seats are really comfy too.
Melbourne trains have mostly comfortable seats, but can be a bit cramped, especially in peak hour. Both kinds of trains are spacious, just the Melbourne ones are smaller, being only one storey.
Melbourne trains are privatized, Sydney trains are run by the NSW State Government. I don’t know which makes it run better, as both have had problems. I have been on both kinds of train when they have lost power, which isn’t helpful if you are trying to get to an exam (Melbourne) or to catch a bus (Sydney). However in Melbourne if the trains are delayed, the State Government fines Connex, the company that runs the trains and stations.
Both places have replacement buses when there is track-work. I don’t know if it was because I was unfamiliar, but the way the tracks connected up was confusing, and due to a change in the way things were organized, I ended up being sent to lots of different stations trying to find where I was supposed to go. However, I’ve theorized that a ring around Melbourne’s star-topology rail network would allow easier train travel (which is far superior to a bus in traffic) to more destinations.
The stations didn’t seem much different, except for slightly deeper tracks in Sydney to accommodate the double-decker trains. The big stations are a little crazy, the little ones still functional.
Ticketing in Sydney is insane. you buy a ticket to your destination, paying a different rate for each. In Melbourne, I feel that the better system has been reached of zones and time limits, where you can get a 2-hour/daily/weekly/monthly/half-yearly/yearly ticket for either or both of the zones, and that ticket can be used on any of the public transport (trains, trams, buses), you can get off and on as often as you want, for as long as you ticket is valid.
As always, a perfect blend is what I want- better trains on Melbourne’s better network, and a non-confusing outer rail loop.
The Visa Debit Cards are no longer working in Bolivian ATMs. This is an issue for the ~100 people I know here who get their money for living from the ATM with- you guessed it, a visa card. The cards don’t work- this isn’t hearsay- it has been tested by reputable people.
This hasn’t been in the news, nor has it turned up any relevant google results. Has anyone else had any issues?
Ever thought that the mobile phone regulations for aeroplanes are a bit silly, or worse, been on a plane with someone else who does? For all those out there in the “they-just-want-to-zap-our-fun” brigade, yes, there is sense behind the requests for passengers to switch off their mobile phones.
From [the age] : Captain aborts take-off over mobile phones. The pilot noticed interference with the navigation systems, and aborted the take-off at the last minute. Police were called in, and the offending passengers, identified by cabin staff, were arrested. They face punishment of 3 months in jail if convicted.
We don’t need to be reminded about how dangerous planes are when they are near the ground (see this recent near-tragedy [the BBC]), so it makes sense that if the pilot saw interference with his important-to-fly-the-plane-safely gadgets, switching off phones during take off and landing can’t be a bad idea.
It might even save lives.