Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Melbourne... four seasons in one day.

As many of my avid readers may be aware, or not, I am currently back home with my fam and Embo in Melbourne (or check this out). And after a decent stint in Colombo (I like Sri Lanka, but Colombo's a whole different story), I can officially say it's good to be back home! The old addage of "four seasons in one day" still holds true - you need to wear boardshorts under your jeans, and a t-shirt, jumper and jacket.. because you may leave the house and it is beautiful and sunny, and despite the huge drought it could be raining by lunch time! Though the great thing about Melbourne at the moment is definately the Melbourne Comedy Festival and the beginning of the Australian Rules Football (a.k.a. Footy) season. I saw a comic the other day, and here is one of his jokes (mainly for Aussies I think).

Australians, sorry Aussies, like to shorten everything. When I first arrived, I said to a guy that I was going to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and he goes "Nah mate, we call it the MCG". When speaking to another bloke, he goes "Nah mate, it's just the Gee". Soon it's going to be known as the G. Ever thought about buying a Vowel!?

The sad thing is, however, that Aussies really aren't getting in to the cricket this world cup. And for those who saw some of my obsession in Sri Lanka, they would understand the significant life change I have gone through and the huge void in time it has created. Part of the reason is that ti is not on free to air TV (except the Australian matches). Last night I saw one of few matches, which was Sri Lanka beating New Zealand. But because it starts at 12:30am, the pub I was at (which had cable TV) closed at 3:00am and I was forced into early retirement only seeing three quarters of the Sri Lankan batting innings. 24 hour watering holes are few and far between, with the Casino prolly being the only one and that's still 10km away from my house.. so yeah. Go! Tonight is Australia v South Africa in the semis, I'll be trying my darndest to stay awake for that!

One thing before I go. Sri Lanka made the Aussie papers the other day, I think for the first time in the past two weeks. It was in the "odd spot" of my local newspaper, which is a random funny event from around the world they publish each day to appease the lowest common denominators. I enjoy it. Here it is:

Saturday April 21, 2007
Sri Lanka's Finance Ministry is trying to convince children to open their piggy banks to help ease coin shortages. The scheme aims to bring up to 4 per cent of Sri Lanka's coins back into circulation to help avoid the cost of minting new ones.

I thoguht this was hilarious.. the piggy banks of the children of Sri Lanka is going to fund the next Kfir jet! I think if we tried this in Australia, we might finally get enough money to actually buy a vowel!

On a side note, a drunken guy in the pub last night (who was interrupting my viewing of the Sri Lanka cricket destroyers!) tried to convince me if I melt down a 50c coin, the nickel in the coin would be worth around $1.20 at current prices. So I gave him two 50c coins and asked him to buy me a beer at $2.40 - he wasn't none too impressed. For the curious, the 50c coin is made of 75% copper and only 25% nickel - so his calculations are way out. They used to be made up of 80% silver, but because so many people melted the coins down in 1966 they changed (go WIkipedia!)

Take care all, and hope to catch up with you soon ont he flipside.

Peace, Love and Shirt-Fronting Ball Ups,


P.S. Yeah, my camera hasn't moved far since I got back... maybe next time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Colonialism Nots Dead, It's On A Golf Course

Some of you may have heard that the LTTE now officially have an airforce, consisting of two home made planes it must surely be the world's smallest airforce. Considering they are up against Kfir Jets and the likes, the rebels surely must be hoping for an upset on the scale of Ireland beating Pakistan or Bangladesh beating India in the World Cup Cricket. Many of you may know that I am a big cricket fan. Some of you may not realise that for the past three odd weeks and for the next four weeks I will be living in a state of perpetual lethargy. The games are on at a good time here in Sri Lanka - they start around 7pm, just after work and The Simpsons, and finish around 3-4am. So obviously, the only thing that is suffering from all of this is my work... meanwhile, the streets of Sri Lanka (and Bangladesh) are buzzing with an amazing vibe. According to the BBC, the only sort of street rallies currently allowed in Bangladesh considering all the political strife is that relating to the ellations of the Bangladesh Tigers. And the only reason for that is the police are joining in the same street celebrations. Sri Lanka is not quite at the same level, but if you don't know how many runs Sangakara made or if you don't know who's wicket Murali took - you ain't worth your salt!

On the weekend past, a dozen of us travelled up to Kandy to play some cricket, many of us blury eyed from watching Sri Lanka beat India the night before (and what a game that was!). One of the good things about Sri Lanka, is that people work in all different sort of positions.. and Richard a.k.a. The Jelf works for a tourist company, and he definately came through with the goods this weekend when he organised the golfing trip away! So off we went, in convey with a jeep and a mini bus...

Lara, Andy, Martine and Katrina.. all wondering "When the F*%^ are we going to get there!?". A three hour drive turned quickly into five.... but it was worth it. The gold course is set on a huge piece of land next to Lake Victoria (a large hydro dam actually):

First stop on arrival? Check out our challete's on the golf course and tuck into a quick beer before we hit the practice fairwair.

The practice fairway.. not a bad view. Below (out of sight) there were buffalo we were aiming for.. completely unsuccesfully I must add. But in the picture, if you squint and tilt your head, you can see my ball flying into the mountains....

Sam (left) teaching Andy (right) how to hit a ball. They're both about to leave Sri Lanka in the next few weeks, so best they get an ass whipping sooner rather than later.

After we hit our 150 balls, two guys ran around picking up the balls.. in the meanwhile, we decided to play frisbee with the bucket lids. Martine takes safety very seriously!

That night some of stayed up until 3:30am to watch Australia beat South Africa. But that was not going to get in the way of the big day. At 10am, we were ready and raring to go. Sam, me and Andy and our three caddies.. and out of sight were our two ball finders who spent much of their time digging around in the bushes and rough looking for Andy's ball. :-)

The Glory Shot. A 100 yard, par 3, 4th hole. In the background you can see the tee off area, and this was the outcome with my 8 iron. Like a Tiger!

Poor Andy, on the same hole he had a bit more to go on his second shot.. say about 100 yards more.

Thankfully, my caddie had a handicap of 5 so he could give me some tips on the green.

Meanwhile, some of the girls decided to sit by the pool and lap it all up.. Ali who is currently staying with me while she is doing some research, welp she is from England and got fried as one would expect of the English when they see something resembling a big yellow ball in the sky. Her knees are still in pain...

Some of the others played tennis under the floodlights.. me? Nah. I will stick to badmitton.

Overall, it was an awesome weekend. I shot 100. Sam beat me on 99, taking the honours on the last hole. The bugger. Andy, well even with his caddie throwing the ball for him, he still got 135. The other group had about the same amount of luck as Andy. Fantastic weekend though. I felt like a real colonialist with my caddie and ball finders.. now I know what it's like to be a Tiger!

I haven't written in a while, so I thought I might just put up some random photos from previous weekends down south.. this is when I did some big game fishing. Unfortunately, the largest fish we caught was Nemo. The beach was quite nice though.. Unawatuna.

Peace, Love, and ex-Colonies


Thursday, March 08, 2007

ECO2027: Tuk Tuk Environmental Economics

Ahh, the ol' trusty stead: the Tuk-Tuk, the Auto-Rickshaw, the Three-Wheeler, or whatever you may call it. They're always there (except when you need one), waiting to depart you from your hard earned money. They cry poor, and live rich. The tuk-tuk drivers themselves claim they know EXACTLY where you want to go, and then take you to several altenrative destinations first: No, not Borella, I said ROSMEAD PLACE! NO! NOT Galle Face Hotel, I said CRICKET CLUB ON QUEENS ROAD!

"Bagatalle road"
"BagaTALLE road"
"BAGAtalle road"
"Washington DC?"
"Baga-fucking-talle road!"
"Oh, BaGATAlle road".
"...ass muncher...."

Welp, for all their good and all their bad, they are the mode of transport in Colombo. Some of you may feel a bit of de ja vous, and think I have been here before. Well that was ECO1011: Introduction to Tuk Tuk Economics, and since then, We've Graduated!

Living in a developing country, with minimal enforcement of any laws (unless of course they expect you to pay an "on the spot fine"), and with insufficient capital to invest in maintaining eqiupment and infrastructure, you can imagine that - well there's lots of pollution on the roads and lots of shit-box tuk tuks hanging about. And so, unsurprisingly, the President who doesn't like traffic because it slows down his convoy from his home to the nearest airfield, decided to improve the situation he would unilaterally impose a new law:
All Tuk Tuks Must Run On Compressed Natural Gas
I thought, "This is great!" when I first read about it. There's an environmental problem, solve it by just demanding new technologies be used, right? I mean, in Enviro Eco 101 you learn this is one of the most inefficient methods because you aint using the "invisible hand" as Adam Smith put it (i.e. the market). But that's cool, nothings going to change without some form of drastic decisions. It turns out there are a lot of Adam Smiths in this world, here's a few of them:

This one may have just been released from Jail...

This one looks almost as lucky as me on Friday night when I was da man on the roulette table in the "foreigners only" casino!!

I just liked this one's name....

But there's a problem in all of these over simplistic calculations (and thus the second year level subject!). In fact, it can actually be very difficult to reconcile these problems. Firstly, there are 300,000 tuk tuk drivers in Sri Lanka. Let's take a conservative estimate, and say that each of the breadwinner is from a household of 5. That's 1.5 million people who depend on tuk tuks for at least some, if not the majority, of their household income. Put it another way: 7.5% of Sri Lankans rely on Tuk-Tuks for their income! If the average tuk-tuk driver say takes 10 passengers a day (even on a bad day he will do better than that!), that's 15% of Sri Lankans rely on Tuk-Tuks for their daily transport!

Let's move on from the socio-economic perspective, and look at the politics. There are 300,000 tuk-tuk drivers. I will assume that all are of voting age, which is probably quite close to being true. Each one has a spouse, who relies on this income. 600,000 votes. They probably support another two members of their household of voting age that will also vote with their hip pocket. 1,200,000 votes. Please, feel free to stop me if you think my calculations are wrong. Nothing? Ok, I'll continue. Many of the people who use tuk tuks hate the fact that petrol prices are going up and making tuk tuks more expensive, if the policy makes prices of tuk tuks go up let's say 20% of them will also change their vote. 1,800,000 votes. Now, we need to subtract the three people who vote based on environmental issues, that The President will gain. 1,799,997 votes of a total 13,320,000 voters. That is, 13.5% of voters will vote based on the price of tuk-tuks in Sri Lanka. A swing of 27% as most vote for the incumbent.

So, unsurprisingly, The President has decided not to pursue the agenda. Now I could go on a rant why democracy sucks, and explain the benefits of having me as be ultimate dictator, but I am not sure if this blog is the right forum for that: I think I need to be on Dave Letterman instead.

So what do you do? Do you kow tow to the social and economic pressures that tuk-tuk drivers would face and allow them to continue using gas-guzzling tuk-tuks? Or do you try to reign in the air pollution problems (that create health costs, reduce people's happiness, and other externalitities) and then get unelected as a result?

It's a difficult question, but how about if I put this to you: In Bangladesh, a country much much poorer than Sri Lanka, since 1982 they have started using CNGs (compressed natural gas tuk-tuks) and almost all are now convereted.

Peace, Love, and Tree Gugging Pinky Socialist Left Pinky Punks,


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Friday, March 02, 2007

Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

You know, watching Michael Crawford in this british sitcom I used to think that this over the top comedy was exactly that; too over the top to ever verge on reality. Well, last night at a BBQ at an unnamed persons place in an unknown area on the edge of Colombo a not to be named person proved that Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em (1). My golly golly gosh, at first I was so sure she was joking - it wasn't until the questions kept coming over and over again with this blank look that I realised this girl is serious.

I know I can get in a lot of trouble by saying things like this, something about it not being PC or blah blah blah. So I feel I ought to justify myself. Sitting around, drinking some beers, and talking about green energy (one does tend to get surrounded by tree hugging pinky socialist hippies in this gig), she asked what a wind mill was, "Oh yeah, we got heaps of them back home in Oreogon". Explained a lot of things, but not enough? "Why can't we catch waves and, like, never run out of wave energy?" or even better "When I'm in a boat we make waves, can't we just drive boats passed them?".

This is why I liked Jacqui, because she took no prisoners when it came to people like this. She probably would just start groaning in front of them from the weight of stupidity. I must say however, I am a huge fan of Plato for this precise reason. He did believe that at certain levels of stupidity, it ought to be a crime and more importantly you should not have the right to vote.

The most scandalizing aspect of Plato's political philosophy today is his argument against democracy. Scholars like to think of Plato as one of the greatest minds of Western civilization, but few contemporary thinkers feel comfortable with the philosopher's dismissal of the idea of popular self-government. His apparent contempt for ordinary folks is an embarrassment, and his deliberations on that topic seem hopelessly out-dated or even in bad taste. Yet, a closer look at Plato’s reasoning quickly reveals that his remarks are by no means irrelevant for an analysis of contemporary politics and society.
It's sort of like the Darwin Award's, though instead of being something as minor as propegating the species, this is about electing governments. But essentially, it's all about survival of the fittest and natural selection. As a species, if we continue to allow people that think China is "some sort of dishware" to vote, we will die out. We will end up killing ourselves from global warming whilst relying on a cup full of water to create enough ever-lasting wave energy to electrify the world. Stupid people shouldn't vote (2). Stupid people shouldn't breed. And less they drink, stupid people should not drive.

Peace, Love, and Plato Is Not A Planet Or A Dog,


(1) I emplore anyone at that party to name and shame this person. Lack of intelligence may not be a crime, but goddamit it ought to be at such low levels. It's like radiation. A little bit of stupidity is okay, but in high doses it's dangerous to all those around.

(2) Is it not hilarious that if you google 'stupid people not shouldn't vote' you get Google Scholar with a list of published articles. If only the stupid people knew, their would be riots outside of WalMart the world over

Friday, February 23, 2007

I don't know a title, you be creative ya twit!

It has been a while since I last posted, well a month to be precise Virgo - not that I am a virgo, and not that I believe in that codswoddle, but if I was and did then that would be the case. In the meanwhile, the blog has been attacked by unscrupulous comment spammers with their lolita stories. And Emma has come and gone from Sri Lanka, destined for bigger and better things in Melbourne with the onset of her studies in Masters of Public Health. Master Emma, I like the ring of it. I always find Master a funny title, because it is what Geeves calls you when you are like 12. Anyhoot.

My street became famous two days ago, featuring on BBC News. At the end of my street, a group of monks are protesting against the governments's refusal to withdraw from the Cease Fire Agreement with the LTTE. Yesterday was its 5 year anniversary. The monks want more war, from what it seems. They also have signs at the end of my street which I pass every day, like "Claim Back Our Independence and Remove Tiger-Supporting NGOs". It saddens me to see Sri Lanka, such a beautiful country with so much potential, continue fight amoung themselves.

I wish I had more to talk about, but unfortunately it is Friday, 5:30pm, I am still at work and I can smell the beer. Talking about beer, in this week in 1935 the first canned Beers were produced. And in this week 2007, Byron found an importer of VB stubbies - and at US$18 (AUD$22ish) that's cheaper than Australia! Some would say, "Now all you need to do is find a meat pie importer and you'll be set" - beat ya to it! Boscastle pies taboot. And with that, I'm ready for the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the West Endies: BRING IT ON!

Before Emma left, we managed to travel quite a bit around the country. One of the things we did was go to Yala National Park and Bundala National Park a fortnight or so ago. It was pretty cool, though Emma got really annoyed with me taking so many photos of stupid birds, "When I met you, you didn't like birds. I feel ripped off". Welp before you feel too sorry for her, this is what she got to see on our adventuring:

Little Green Bee Eater doing his thang...

Grey Langur munching on some leaves. If you see a pack of these dudes and you are in a safari jeep, get the guy to rev his engine loudly - they go "ape shit". Punny aren't I?

Elephant. Enough said.

Just a drawing I did while on the trip...

Homo Embo Wallerus in her unfamiliar territory.

Did you know there are peacocks, peahens, and they are all part of the Peafowl species? I thought they were just all peacocks... here's one doing a dance anyway.

Nimal, my trusty driver, came with us. As Emma would say, "He's a dude!". And that he is.

An injured Intermediate Egret we found while on a boat. In the background, you see it I know you do, yes you're right, it's a $2.50 COIN SLOT! Love the crack.

We visited Nimal's house on the way back, and this is a funky looking bird (Hornbill?) having a dig at the papayas.

A mean looking Crocodilus ... if only Steve was around, I am sure he would have shoved his thumb up it's clacker to piss it off - just for kicks.

This is a Stupa (Buddhist monument thingymajig where you can pray). This one is in Tissamahara, Hambantota, and is really old.. like 2500 years old.

I know I have shown photos of me at the eye surgery before, but Emma liked this photo. These people are waiting to have cataracts removed...

And finally, this is a mason on a housing construction site.

To all those that have moved countries recently, (Chris, Caz, George, Phi, AYADs) and to those applying for Aussie citizenship - you know who you are - I wish you the best of luck!

Peace, Love, and Tweety Pies,


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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The best thing one can do when it raining is to let it rain.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had bastards for parents, as surely as it rains in Sri Lanka he got beaten up at school for a name like that. But he did provide the aforementioned quote that I name this blog entry after. When it's raining, theres nothing you can do but let it rain - and that is even moreso the case in Sri Lanka, for when it rains it may not stop for some time. Embo and I decided to get out on the Australia Day long weekend, and headed inland to a little place called Dambulla. Just outside of that skanky town is a beautiful resort called Kandalama, designed by a famous Sri Lankan architect Jeffrey Bawa. To put it in perspective, he's Donna D'Cruz's favourite architect. I don't know who she is either, but that's not the point. He is fantastic at blending the surrounding environment into the designs of the hotel... and Kandalama is his best. It's 1km long, 7 stories tall, and barely noticeable hidden within the rocky hills behind, the forest in between, and on the the Kandalama lake/weir. Trees grow within the hotel, monkeys walk along the balconys scarying unsuspecting Emma's, and the infinity pool trails off so it appears it is part of the lake. If you're ever in SL, definately make sure you spend a night of luxury in Kandalama..

As mentioned though, unfortunately, it rained rained and rained some more. Our plans to climb Sigiriya? Washed away. Our plans, ahem, my plans to go birdwatching and walking through the forest? Rained out. But where there's rain, there's a rainbow.. and Emma and I did play a heck of a lot of ping pong, and abused the buffet as bad as the jacuzzi.

This is what our view looked like.. often we would sit on those chairs and have monkeys walk along the barrier. They weren't exactly nice little monkeys, they wanted to seek revenge on us for taking over their oasis:

Here's the tacky entrance to Dambulla caves, a holy site for buddhists or something or rather. they claim that's the biggest buddha in the world, but there are like 6 bigger in Sri Lanka. It was donated not too long ago by the Japanese:

Inside the five caves is pretty cool.. lots of frescos and statues, some are over 700 years old or something:
Outside the caves, the monkeys are getting jiggy withit doggy style (feel free to include monkey style in your repportoir boys, sounds more animalistic!):The thinking monkey, "How am I going to seek revenge on Emma.....":

You thought I didn't take any bird photos., yeah? yeah, right! There was this one morning where it stopped raining for a couple of hours and I jetted outside.. unfortunately, it started raining shortly after and I ran back squeeling like a baby, "My camera, my new camera, god dam you gods of rain!". This is a funky funky dude with electric eyes I spotted while pondering on a rock, the Ceylon Paradise Flycatcher:

This dude was haunting me, but I finally got close enough to the Common Iora to get a quick snap - even if the bushes were in the way:

Up above were Brahminy Kites flying all around. Due to the grey skies, hard to get the brown and white of the bird to stand out.. so I messed around with the photo on Adobe and this is what I came up with. I kinda think its cool... whatchyareckon?
These dudes were everywhere. No, its not that time of the month, it is a Red-vented Bulbul eating a jungle rodent:

Here's another R-V Bb taking a dip:

My little friends, the Little Green Bee Eater hanging about.
After all that birding and twitching, it was back to work. And although I don't have a PhD so I can't technically be a "Doctor", it didn't stop me from scrubbing up on Monday to check out some cataract removal operations at the Colombo Eye Hospital. The PJ's were a little bit small for me; I think I might need to consider donating some smocks as part of my next project.
Welp, that is all from me my ardent readers. Tune in next time for some more racially and gender insensitive comments.

Peace, Love, and Scrubbers,


Who Dat Countin' Ya Hitz!?