Buggery Bollocks!

30 06 2007

Marilyn BirthdayI missed my own anniversary!  Dammit!  I rarely miss dates, I’m a Calendar Nazi, but miss this one I did.

The first birthday of my blog.  A full year has passed already since I started it back on June 11 of last year (2006).

Back then I made myself a promise that I’d make an entry every day, I sort of hoped I’d keep my promise, and I did, even on the days when I truly didn’t feel the creative urge to type anything at all, I still posted something, even if it was simply a comment, a cartoon, a picture, whatever…  I posted something.

This all started out as my lazy attempt or perhaps it’s more practical, to keep my family and friends back in Australia abreast of what I was up to after I left my job, and commenced the steps to move myself and my life from Australia to Washington State, America for a new adventure.

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since then, but pass it has, and I’m still here, and hopefully you’re still here too.  I never imagined for a moment that I’d have more than a couple of dozen readers when I started this, what a surprise I got when I saw the numbers increase, and that according to SiteMeter that a lot of these readers were from all over the world, not just my home country Australia, and my adopted home country; America.

Since June 11 2006, there have been exactly 47,600 visitors as at the time of typing this entry.  I’m completely astounded!  What a blast!

So Happy Birthday to Outside the Box, you were an experiment to start with, and you’ve taken on a life of your own, and thank you to everyone who’s read and left comments, and to those of you who’ve lurked in the ether, reading silently.  I appreciate your support.

In the next couple of months, I’m going to finally start moving towards hosting my blog myself, as much as I love WordPress, I need more space than the free membership there has on offer.  So hopefully as time progresses, the entire look and feel of what you’re reading will change, as I’ll be able to get a lot more creative.

This coming year should be a fun one.

Until next post…  Hooroo! πŸ™‚


29 06 2007

Ratatouille 2007Have you ever wanted a child just as an excuse to go and see a movie?  I have.

Have you ever seen a movie and loved it so much you wanted a child to see it it with?  I have here too!  Although I did have Mark with me, so that almost counts. πŸ˜‰ *laugh*

We’ve only just arrived home from seeing Ratatouille which opened across cinemas today.  It’s a magnificent film.  Funny, entertaining, well animated, funny, caters to children and adults alike, funny…  Did I mention funny?

We saw the trailer for this movie quite some time ago, it was one of the teaser trailers that was shown a good 6 months or so ago.  Based on what we saw at the time, we weren’t interested.

Then a month or so ago we saw a new trailer, and we were hooked.  The trailer alone had us itching to see this movie.

The best bit?  The actual film itself lived up to its expectations.  Our anticipation and excitement were not in vain.

Remy is not your everyday kind of rat, he’s a discerning creature with a delicate palate and creative bent who knows he’s destined for greater things.  The movie follows his antics and endeavours into the culinary fields and his unlikely pairing with a completely inept human.  There’s much more to the story than that, but to find out, you’re simply going to have to see the movie for yourself.

There are visual jokes a plenty, laughs for the kids, innuendo for the “older kids”, it’s just simply a brilliant film.  But don’t take my word for it, go see it, and if you have kids, take them with you.

To give you an idea how funny it was, there was a young family sitting behind us, and about half way through the film I heard a young voice say “Daddy, I need to go potty”.  Daddy was heard to sigh, and from what I could gather, due to his enjoying the film, ignore his own offspring’s plea.  A second more imploring “Daddy, I NEED to go potty” had him reluctantly leave the theatre for a bathroom break.  He simply did not want to miss the film, and who could blame him.  I was thirsty and had a large bottle of water with me, but so as not to miss anything, I only had meager sips.  In fact I have pretty much a brand new bottle of water with me now.  The self same bottle. *laugh*

I’d loved it, in fact I’m already entertaining thoughts of seeing it again.  It’ll definitely be one of the movies that is added to the collection.


Furry reunion

29 06 2007

Well, we’re back, almost completely unpacked, and the animals are all home too, and they’re VERY happy to be back.

The dogs have been bathed and are all sweet smelling, a great change from the dog shaped stench beasts that we dropped off a week ago, and the cats have rediscovered their dependence on us.
Whereas they were getting a little standoffish, now they’re almost clingy.  Awwww…  they missed us.

We’ve crash landed back to reality, back to the chores, and fortunately for me, back to the gym too.  I’ve actually hit the point where I miss it.  Perhaps I’ve finally lost my mind.  I think not, or at least hope not.  It’ll be fun though.

Time to start planning the next trip.  The next one will be more local, there’s still so much of Washington State we’ve not seen.  If it’s anything like back home, usually the best things to see / visit are the ones closer to home that you’re just not aware of, or have taken for granted.  So it’s time to get back to the Tourist information and see what we can find.  First stop may just be the roller coaster that Mark located a short drive South of us.  Woohoo!


Phew, it’s over!

28 06 2007

We’re back, all unpacked, the animals have been collected from the Kennels, and are all very happy to see us, and we’re exhausted.

The border crossing was pretty tedious as expected.  There was a pretty long queue of cars waiting to get through, long enough that while I was sitting in the line in the car, edging forward whenever the chance arose, Mark had enough time to get out, wander across the large lawn and photograph the floral Canadian flag, the Peace Arch, and then wander across the International border several times to take more photos, such as the Floral American flag, and wander off for a toilet break.
All the while, I sat in the car, edging forward on the odd occasion.

When we finally made it through to the gates, which took an hour I might add, we were then directed into the Immigration building so that I could obtain a new Immigration Status (I-94) to enter the U.S.A.

The Canadian border is always pleasant, they’re friendly, polite, and appear to be generally happy to see you.  Not so the Americans, you’re lucky if they grunt at you, they’re rude, and very big on interrogation.

I’m here on a Visitors Visa which means I can’t work.  If I do, and this includes volunteering I am breaching my Visa and will be deported.  Each time I’ve had to get an Immigration Card, I’m asked what am I doing here.  To which I reply, I’m here with my partner, who is living and working here, and I’m visiting.  They usually respond “No, what are you doing, you can’t be doing nothing”.  To which I take a small breath so as not to appear agitated, and politely repeat, I’m here visiting, I’m NOT working, and therefore doing nothing, other than going to the gym and looking after the pets.

Believe me, I’d rather be working.  But I also don’t want to be deported.  These people are only doing their job, I understand that, but sheesh, a little civility would go a long way to making the whole process easier, and perhaps making their job that little more enjoyable.  I foolishly asked what a double asterisk on my Visa meant, only to be shot down with “Why?  Why don’t you want to know what the top codes mean?  Or the bottom codes”…


By this stage I already had my Visa in my hand, so I smiled, laughed, and said I was only curious and left.

Oh well, I’m back.  I love Canada, Australia is still home, but I’m currently living in the USA.  I’ll make the best of it.

Ahh…  I did however, prior to leaving Canada, purchase a small Australian Flag for inside the house, a larger one to display outside the house, and a sticker of the flag to put on the car.  The guy at the Flag Shop in Canada asked why I wanted so many.  I smiled and said, firstly I refuse to purchase an Australian Flag in a country that isn’t part of the Commonwealth (which is why I got them in Canada not the USA), and that we’re proud of our country of origin.  He was impressed and gave me a discount.  GOD I LOVE THE COMMONWEALTH! πŸ˜‰

That’s it, I’m tired, it’s been a big day, I’m going to get off the PC and have an early night.


Whale of a time!

27 06 2007

*HAPPY DANCE*  I saw whales!  I saw whales!

What a day!  As you know, we were up early today to go Whale Watching, it took us almost 45 minutes to drive from Vancouver to Steveston a fishing village to go on the Whale Watching Tour.

It took a full 2 hours to get there, and we were warned before we left that if we were prone to seasickness to avoid sitting at the front of the boat as it gets very bouncy…  Of course, we ran straight for the front seats.

Side note:  Primarily because I know my mum will leave a comment about my getting seasick as a kid, I’ll clarify.  I did, horribly too, not so much anymore.  Which I’m VERY happy about.

Anyway… we bounced our way out of the port for a full 2 hours in what turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, keeping our eyes peeled for any sight of whales.

I rock!  My mum and grandmother used to call me Hawkeye as a kid, turns out that despite wearing glasses now, I’m still pretty good at spotting the difficult.  I was first to spot the whales.  Killer Whales or Orcas to be precise.

There were at least 5 as far as I was told, I have no idea, I was too excited, and far too busy trying to find the damn things in the view finder of the video camera to film them.  I’ve got plenty of footage of these magnificent and graceful animals, and when I finally upload the footage you’ll see plenty of water, and every now and then, plenty of whale too.  The trick was to pan out, and then as soon as you spotted a whale, zoom in as quickly as you could to try and catch it.  Of course you often missed seeing anything good.  But I was fortunate enough to catch one on film just as it rolled onto it’s back and flapped its pectoral fins and slapped it’s tail twice on the water.  Very cool!

It was funny really.  There were at least 30 people on the boat, and aside from the small groups that people arrived in, noone spoke to each other.  But not 30 seconds after spotting whales as a group, everyone mixed, mingled and conversed like they’d been friends for years.  Whales really are the answer!

I’m pretty sure a whale would solve the current government problems.  If not, the government heads could always be ged to them.  Actually, that’s not fair on the whales.

We spent a good hour watching the whales, and observing special boating rules.  Boats are only allowed to travel parallel to the direction the whales are travelling, and may not approach closer than 100ft.  If however you do find yourself “accidentally” in the path of the approaching whales, you are to stop all engines and remain stationary until they have passed.  We must have had a bad Captain, as we ended up in front of the whales “accidentally” numerous times.  *laugh*   Gotta love an accident!

Another 2 hours, and we were back at the docks, where we had lunch, and then wandered over to check out the Fish Canning Museum.  Man, this place was a whole lot more interesting than I ever imagined that it would be.  What a complex process, not to mention a dangerous one.  The building was built in the mid 1800’s around 1840, and didn’t finally close down from full production until the mind 1970’s.  A truly fascinating place.

Aside from grabbing dinner finally when we got back to Vancouver that’s pretty much been the day, and now it’s drawing to a close.

However, before I go, I did remember something from yesterday that I forgot to share…

When we went to Vancouver’s Play Land the fun park we were accosted by “Parking Ninjas” as we were trying to park the car.  “Parking Ninjas”?  Yes, you read correctly.

Across the road from the fun park, there is a HUGE paid car parking area, where you can park for an entire day for $6.00.  There is absolutely no on street parking in the area, as it’s a residents only permit parking area.  Not that you should let this deter you.

We turned into the side street that leads to the main parking area, I pulled up at the intersection to give way to traffic, and had a small posse of elderly Asian women pounce at the car from the pavement waving cards at me screaming “Parking fo-dolla” over and over.  It took a few seconds for me to work out what was going on.

These enterprising ladies, that I have renamed “Parking Ninjas” were offering to allow people to use there parking permit for a small fee of $4.00.  Enterprising yes, annoying… most definitely!  If it wasn’t for the fact that they were so aggressive in their approach…  admittedly we’re only one car, and there were almost 8 of them vying for our custom, I may have actually taken one of them up on their offer.  But not being one to cause a ninja free-for-all, I parked in the main parking area, where I could at least be guaranteed that I was legally parked.

Very amusing and yet so, so strange.  Parking?  Beware the ninjas!

That’s it, it’s our last night here in Canada tonight, and we’re getting up early again in the morning to do a few things before we leave.  So I’m having an early night.

Take care and until next time…


The Bells! The Bells!

27 06 2007

There’s just no better way to start the day than being scared awake by a foreign alarm, and the hotel alarm clock is definitely fitted with a “pearl clutcher”.

We’d set the alarms to go off early this morning as we’re off on a whale watching tour and have almost an hours drive to get there.  So this is the quick posting for the day.

Have a great day!

You otter see Canada!

26 06 2007

Wow we’ve been busy the last few days.  There’s so much to see here in Canada that a week certainly isn’t long enough.  I think we’d need at least a month to make a dent it all it has to offer, AND we’re only in Vancouver.

Yesterday, after grabbing breakfast we drove almost an hour to the Greater Vancouver Zoo.  To be honest, it’s not quite the sort of place I’m used to as far as Zoo’s go.  In fact, in comparison to the Perth and Melbourne Zoo’s it’s the VERY poor cousin.  The enclosures are the old fashioned sort; square, and chain link fences.

Certainly a place that needs more funding, and I hope they get it.  Appearances aside, it was a pretty awesome place to be, we walked what seemed to be hundreds of miles going around all the enclosures.

The favourite parts of the day were the Radical Raptors exhibition, where hawks, falcons and owls are all put through their paces flying above the audience.  The falcon flew so close to us that her wing actually brushed down my face and glasses as she flew over.  Very cool!  The lion feeding was also awesome.  Cute kitties!  Although HUGE, and I’m certainly not intrigued enough to want to join them in the enclosure.

One of the Siberian Tigers; Miss Kitty, only had half a tail.  Apparently she’d fallen asleep beside the fence and her tail had managed to poke through the wire into the neighbouring Jaguar’s cage.  He promptly bit it off.  Ouch!

Wild kitties!  I’ll certainly not worry so much in the future when my cats misbehave.

Still an awesome experience, so if you’re in the area, I’d recommend checking it out.  It did amuse us slightly that while we were there we purchased a tube of plastic toy Australian animals.  All the way to Vancouver, Canada for Aussie animals….  *sigh… laugh*

After the zoo we went bowling.  Canadian bowling.  5 pins, 3 balls the size of a large grapefruit.  Very different, but a lot of fun.  I’m actually quite good at it too.  Very cool!

Post bowling and dinner, we took off to the movies to see Knocked Up.  OMG!  This film is hilarious.  There’s plenty of profanity, but it’s all in context.  One of my favourite scenes was when the children are being driven to school by their auntie.  You’ll have to see it for yourself.  It’s a very funny, well written film.  Why are you still reading this?!  GO SEE IT!

Today…  We had a sleep in, certainly deserved from all the walking and sightseeing we’ve been doing, then jumped in the car and drove to the Vancouver Aquarium.  This place rocks!

Until today I’d never seen a live whale, let alone a Beluga Whale, they’re amazing creatures, and there’ll be photos of them available in the near future.

My favourite part though were the Otters.  Cute critters, and we were there long enough to see feeding time as well.  The real highlight of the otters though was when we found out that these otters were the ones we’d recently seen in a VERY CUTE YouTube video of two otters holding paws.  I loved it when I saw it, I just never imagined for a moment that I’d actually get to see them in real life.  Check out the video for yourself.


From the Aquarium it was back to the American Consulate to collect my Passport.  You’d think that’d be easy, you’d be wrong.
I collected my passport and checked it prior to leaving, only to find that it had an error in it.  Despite being given a colour copy of information required for transcribing for my Visa, they still managed to mistype it, thus rendering it invalid.  How they got Johnson from Jordan is completely beyond me.  But that’s what they did.  Fortunately they were able to fix it relatively quickly, but not before making me think I’d have to come back another day.  Grrr!

That disaster averted, we took off again to Vancouver’s Play Land a large fun park that contains an old style wooden roller coaster that was once rated one of the world’s top 10.  Don’t for a second underestimate this ride by my saying it’s old, or wooden.  It’s single handedly the best roller coaster that either Mark or I have ever been on.

Built board by board in 1958, the Wooden Roller Coaster is Playland’s most historic and spectacular attraction. Reaching speeds of 45 mph on the steepest drop, the many twists, turns and camel hops of the Wooden Roller Coaster keep you on the edge of your seat until the last hair-raising turn into the station! 

It was so good that Mark and I went on it 6 times.  Most of those consecutively.

The other rides we went on were:

Flume/Log Ride – Lots of spills and water everywhere.
90ft Ferris Wheel – We were the only people on it, so we got extra time at the top to take in the view – awesome!
Dodgem Cars – Initially I didn’t want to, but Mark convinced me.  Very fun, and I crashed the crap out of him!  *laugh*
Kettle Creek Mine Coaster – A children’s ride, but we did it because it was there. πŸ˜‰
Wild Mouse – single carriage car, known as the Mad Mouse in Australia.  Pretty rickety, which upped the fear factor.
Crazy Beach Party – it’s like a combination of the Gravitron and the Pirate Ship, it swings and it spins – Puke material but fun!
Corkscrew – we did this one twice in a row.
Wooden Roller Coaster – Six times we rode this one, the front and back carriages were definitely the best.  Dad you have to come on this one with me!

I think that’s everything.  There were quite a few rides we didn’t go on, but we have every intention of returning in the future.  It was certainly a lot of fun, and the weather was magnificent.  I’ve even managed to get a little red-faced, despite wearing sunscreen.  Oops.

That’s it from me, I think you’re all up to date with our movements so far.

We’re off Whale Watching in the morning, so I’d best get to bed, it’s going to be an early start.

Take care – hooroo!

Just a fly by!

25 06 2007

It’s been a flatout busy day, and it’s not over yet.

I’ll try and post something a little bit later about what we’ve been up to.  But I wanted to at least post something.

Some good news though, my dad is in remission!  Woohoo!  That means they’re coming out to visit in the next few months.  Can’t wait!

Ok, fill you in later.

I’m a very happy boy now.  Cheerio!

It’s all in the marketing

24 06 2007

I’d heard about CraigsList, a web based classified site a long time ago, but had never used it until a few months ago when I was reintroduced to it by a friend.  It’s kind of interesting, and available for most major locations around the world.

I actually managed to find the house we’re living in (rented) via a listing on CraigsList, so I can certainly recommend it.

My personal favourite is the “FREE” section.  The amount of weird stuff on this is unbelievable, sometimes the humour is based purely in what is being offered.  Personally I think the time invested in advertising a half empty bottle of eyedrops far outweighs the benefit of not having to throw it out, and I kid you not.  Someone actually advertised eyedrops.  As if anyone would want someone else’s eyedrops.  EWWW GROSS!!

Moving on…  I stumbled across one this evening, for a free item that’s available in Redmond, the very same suburb that Mark works in.  As CraigsList ad’s expire, I’ve copied it below for you.

I thought it amusing and quirky.  Enjoy!

Old-Fashioned Milk Bottles

Date: 2007-06-24, 4:45PM PDT
I have four crates of five old-fashioned milk bottles. You can:
-Fill them with milk and then drink it!
-Use them as vases!
-Break the bottom off of one and use it in a barroom brawl!
-Glue stuff to them and call it art!
-Melt them and remold them into the shape of your choosing!
-Do a little milkman-themed role-playing with your significant other!
-Fill them with milk and then not drink it!
-Do a little milkman-themed role-playing with me! (Attractive women only, please.)
-Drill finger holes in one and play it like a flute!
All other uses are strictly prohibited. However, this strict prohibition is very laxly enforced, so in practice you can do whatever you want with them. Except bring them back to me! Unless it’s for the milkman thing!

Sky high

24 06 2007

What a day it’s been today.  It started off grey, wet and miserable, but as the day progressed the weather improved, then got bad, then improved, then got bad, then improved, then got bad…  Finally, as I type this, it’s nice again.

The day started off with breakfast at a local cafe a short walk from the hotel, and then it was off to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a cable bridge across a valley and river.  Absolutely brilliant it was too.  I took some video footage, and have issued a video dare for my mum, but I won’t be able to upload it, or any photos until we get back to Seattle.

Next was up the road a ways to Grouse Mountain, where we took the SkyRide to the summit before catching a Lumberjack Show, seeing two cute (but I’d not want to be on the same side of the fence with them) Grizzly Bears, and some timber wolves.  We had lunch on the mountain, had a good walk around, took more photos and footage, and then tried to head back.

That’s when the weather got us.  Just as we were about to board the cable car again to descend the mountain a storm hit, and the SkyRide was closed down; otherwise known as “Put on Weather watch”.  Of course the weather being the weather, you can’t guess how long it’ll last.  So we waited patiently in the queue for almost 40 minutes before finally being able to descend the mountain again.

Once down, it was another drive across town to have dinner at the Vancouver Stone Grill, a restaurant where your food is served to you pretty much raw, on a volcanic rock that has been heated to around 400 degrees Celsius (if you want imperial measurements, work them out yourself πŸ˜›  I’m back in the land of metric – yay!), you slice the meat yourself and cook it to your own requirements.  Yummy and fun.  One word of warning (and I didn’t do it, but I imagine that it’d hurt)…  DO NOT TOUCH THE ROCK!  Of course, it’s almost completely irresistible to not try and re-cook everything that’s on your plate, vegetables, bits of ice, whatever is available really.  *laugh*

So that’s it, the day in a nutshell…  Certainly a much briefer version of what actually happened.  But when I get back I promise I’ll upload some footage and photos for you all.

Oh, and I’ve decided that Vancouver is in my top 3 favourite places to be.

  1. Melbourne
  2. Perth
  3. Vancouver

This may change, but for now, I’m loving it here much more than where I’m currently living.  Strange though, everyone here understands me perfectly, but I have a 1 second “language lag” understanding them.

Ahhh and today’s quote from one of the lumberjacks.  “I’m not crazy, I’m Canadian!”