Monday, March 27, 2006

A letter from the Australian Government

For those non-Sydney people out there I have been getting rather annoyed with the pathetic student union movement at USYD. My main issue is the ridiculous fees that you have to pay to enrol every year, $450 in my first then $350 in my second and third. While VSU (voluntary student unionism) will be coming in next year I decided to try my luck and vent some anger by writing to the Minister of Education regarding the legality of compulsory student unionism. My main argument was that as stated in the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which Australia is a signatory) compelling people to belong to associations is illegal. Therefore compulsory student unionism is in direct violation of an UN covenant.
Well today I got a letter back from the Minister of Education (well not quite, it was from one of his staff) basically saying it is a State government problem, so I need to take up the issue with them. What I did discover is however, is the University allows you to transfer your union fees to the Jean D Foley Bursary Fund if you object to paying your union fees to the Union. I am not exactly sure what the "Bursary Fund" is but I assume it helps pay for our Chancellors drinking habits.

Blame religion on Altitude sickness

It all makes sense now after a study done by some Swiss and Israeli scientists.

There could be a straightforward medical explanation for at least three of the world's major religions. Moses, Mohammed, and Jesus all experienced revelations on mountains, but they were probably just suffering a form of altitude sickness, say a group of Swiss and Israeli neurologists, casting doubt in the process on the very existence of God.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Blue Gum Forest

In the weekend Aleisha and I managed to tear ourselves away from the incredibly exciting Commonwealth Games and go bush walking. The trip we did was from Govetts leap to Blue Gum Forest and back to Govetts leap via Perrys Lookdown. It was 20km all up but the second day started with a 700m climb which was a bit of a gut buster. Here are a few photos from our trip but I will be putting more on my website in the coming days.

A panoramic view taken from Govetts leap.

The mighty Blue Gums were actually a bit of a disappointment, but it was still nice down in the valley.

Some random small caterpillar that is probably highly toxic but looked cool.

A Cunninghams Skink (Egernia cunninghami), one of the largest species of skink in Australia.

Blue Gum Forest is notorious for its leeches but we only had one leeching incident which was quickly dealt to by some Starbucks salt.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Commonwealth Games

Well it has finally arrived, the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games. I personally cant wait to see great sporting nations such as Nauru, Brunei Darussalam, Jersey, Belize, St Helena Anguilla, St Kitts and Nevis, Malawi and Seychelles competing against each other. I can really see why all Australians must be so proud when their athletes beat others from countries whose GDP is lower than the budget of the Australian Institute of Sports. It will be so exciting that I might not be able to stand it, I may have to go tramping this weekend instead.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

More on Africa

Below is a rough map of the route we will be taking on our 25 day safari. We start in Jo'burg and head to Kruger National park for a few days before going up to Victoria Falls. I am not sure if we will be on the Zimbabwe or Zambia side, I guess it all depends on what Mr Mugabe is up to. From there it is off to Chobe National Park and the famous Okavango delta for some serious critter watching. Hopefully we dont run into the same Hippo as a Australian did a few weeks back. From there we cross into Namibia and to Etosha National Park. We then drive through the Namid desert (300m high dunes) before returning to South Africa and Cape Town. We cant wait!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Stink Bug

I believe this one is Morna florens, but there are so many bloody species in the Stink Bug family that it is near impossible to tell.

Why Holdens are useless

Australians have an obsession with driving useless cars just because of the badge they have on the front. Holden was smart enough to exploit this and simply rebadged the Korea made Daewoo Aveo as a Holden Barina and then shipped it to Oz.
Today the NCAP crash results came out and surprise, surprise the Barina/ Daewoo Aveo scored two stars, which basically means its a coffin that you can drive on the road. Some selected quotes.

"unacceptably high risk of life-threatening injury to the driver's chest."

"The driver was found to be at severe risk of injury at just 64km/h" This quote surprised me as I never realised any Daewoo could actually reach that speed.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Mardi Gras

Well after being in Sydney for two years we figured it was about time to check out the famous Mardi Gras. Apparently over 500 000 people came this year. It was an interesting evening and certainly not the sort of thing you would ever see on the streets of Dunedin. It was very entertaining and well worth going to, although seeing old men in leather G-strings is never a pleasant experience (luckily there were not too many of those).

Saturday, March 04, 2006

New pair of Binoculars

Well today we purchased our first pair of binoculars (an engagement present from Aleisha's folks). They are a lovely pair of Pentax 8x40 PCF WPII. They are fully waterproof and nitrogen purged so we could even go swimming with them! On that note when we went to another store (I wont mention names) and asked if they had any waterproof binoculars they responded with; You dont want to use them under water do you? I some times wonder how some people manage to get through life when they have to ask questions like that.
Hopefully we will go tramping next weekend and get to try them out, but until then we will have to resort to spying on our neighbours.

For the full specs click here

Friday, March 03, 2006

Africa here we come!

Well it is official, we are off to Africa in July as today Aleisha and I booked our Southern Africa tour. We are doing a 25 day tour through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and maybe Zimbabwe. We cant wait!

Check out our itinerary here