Saturday, February 28, 2009

Update - Month 4.5

I keep thinking about my blog and wonder what I should write that wouldn't bore my friends too much. Only when you reach the end of this entry will you know if I've succeeded or not. This is thanks to my good friend since Jr. High School, Rick "the Bull" Walters and his kick me in the ass email in response to my self doubts as to whether this move down under was a good decision or not. Thank you, Rick.

I'd had a very bad week, mis-dealing with a client on a small project and in this company, especially in these troubled economic times, makes any mistake a deadly mistake as far as employment goes. My old work place went down to 30 hour work weeks at the beginning of February and just last week, laid off 5 people out of the Seattle office. With only about 28 employees, that is a huge hit. The middle of February, I had my 3 month review and was sweating it. That week they laid off8 people throughout the company so I wasn't feeling too confident. I even cleaned out all my personal stuff just in case I was going to be escorted to the door. In fact, I'd tried to get into the office one Saturday and my card wouldn't let me onto the floor so it could have been their way of saying, 'Your services are no longer needed,' and the DO it that way sometimes.

But I did get a pretty good review although will go though it again at the 6 month mark. This past week, I even got some under the table intelligence to expect a phone call from the woman who hired me regarding doing some marketing. That was the original plan, to put me in production to learn the company for 6 months then slowing move into marketing. Right now, they need marketing so the plan is going along as anticipated, that's great news.

The difference in Australia's approach to the world wide economic crisis is to invest. They government is giving money directly to home buyers for example. $14,000 for buying an existing home, $21,000 for new construction with some State and Local governments throwing in a few thousand more. With record low interest rates, I should think about buying, but my location is unknown as I could be sent to Perth or Brisbane or even stay in the meat grinder of Wollongong (at least, that's how others throughout the company view the corporate office).

I haven't be bought a car yet. Speaking of which, one of the usual suspects at the Charles (the local pub I usually go to) bought a car off a friend who is a mechanic for Mercedes Benz. He goes up to the auto auction in Sydney, brings a car down and goes through it mechanically to make sure it's up to snuff then sells it with a 12 month guarantee! This pub buddy bought a 15 year old Ford Falcon 4 door for about $1,200 and it looks very good! I told her to tell her friend to keep me in mind for something similar. When that happens, I'll be able to explore a far wider range of places during the weekends. This and the travel for marketing should make for more interesting reading and pictures.

This is just an update for my friends who care, and if you don't're still my friend. I'm doing well in this late in life adjustment and wanted you to know. I miss Holly a lot and she misses me, too. This separation has made us appreciate one another much more. And I appreciate all of you.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Black Sunday 08/02/2009

As you've probably noticed, Australia caught on fire last Sunday. Actually, these 20 some fires that burned over 1,800 square miles, 700 homes and claimed an estimated 300 lives are about 800 miles to the south of where I live in the state of Victoria. Canberra, which is about 3 hours drive to the south is experiencing haze from all the smoke. It is awful and the worst part is that 5 or so of the fires were set by different people. I think they've arrested one person that they are holding, others have been booked and released. Some fires were set by copycat morons days afterwards, when the news reports started coming in on the mass destruction and death. What kind of sickness could do this?

This is a National tragedy, the worst in cost and humanity in the country's history and the Aussies are responding in incredible fashion.

The part you don't hear in the American media is how much relief effort is happening. Wednesday when fund raising really got into gear, an average of $1,000,000 per hour was being donated! As the rest of the world, Australia is in a recession but the donations keep pouring in! In Queensland to the north, summer monsoons have dumped FEET of water over the area for MONTHS. Over 1/3 of the state is UNDER water, 3,000 homes have been damaged and dozens killed yet a lot of these people have signed over their government relief checks to the relief effort in Victoria. It's incredible. We Americans think of ourselves as very generous people and we are, but the Australians are certainly on par. Just think, $1,000,000 an hour from a country who's population is barely 21 million! I think the total is now around $100,000,000 making that's over $4 for every person in the country!

Here's a link to some pictures thanks to Aunt Jeanne

Please read and comment...or email!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Darwin's (as in Australia) newest tourist attraction..............

The theme park's 'cage of death' that drops tourists into a
crocodile's lair
Without the cage you wouldn't stand a chance swimming with a massive saltwater crocodile.

But for brave punters who still want to get cozy with a feisty croc, a new Australian tourist attraction is offering the chance for a close encounter in the safety of a clear acrylic box dubbed the 'cage of death'.

Just 4cm of acrylic, a pair of goggles and a swimsuit, will separate thrill-seekers from the jaws of Choppa, a saltwater crocodile.

The cage has no bars, unlike cages used in shark dives, which prevents the reptiles from gripping on but deep teeth scratches are visible on the sides, deterring some hesitant participants.

Top End tourists climb into the clear box before being lowered into Choppa's lair.
They then spend 15 minutes inside the 9ft high cage and watch Choppa, who lost both front feet while fighting other crocodiles, trying to take a bite out of them.

The attraction at Crocosaurus Cove in the heart of the city of Darwin in the Northern Territory has been given high marks by adrenaline-junkies.

Face-to-face: The experience is made even more thrilling for tourists because the cage has no bars.

Saltwater crocodiles, known locally as "salties," are the largest crocodile species, with the males growing up to 6m long and weighing up to 1000Kg.

They are found in across Southeast Asia but the highest numbers are found in northern Australia .

Michael Scott, who opened the attraction in July, said there was plenty of demand for the A$ 65 thrill.

'In the Northern Territory , the saltwater crocodile is an icon and is part of our life. They are always in the news, either in someone's swimming pool or killing someone's favourite horse,' Mr Scott said.

Hunting for food: Up to two people are allowed in the cage at the one time.

The most famous crocodile to be housed at the park is Burt, who starred as the beast that nearly ate Linda Koslowski's character in Crocodile Dundee.

Although saltwater crocodiles are dangerous, fatal attacks on humans are rare in Australia with only one or two reported a year.

Swimming face-to-face with a massive saltwater crocodile might not be everyone's idea of fun but thrill-seekers are snapping up Australia 's newest tourist attraction

I hope this isn't too tacky to post an email, but it is from a dear friend Char, who wants me to enjoy my time in Oz....I think.