Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What Will I Do For Four Days

Tracie went to Melbourne.

I couldn't go.

This sucks big time.

Can anyone recommend a movie to rent? A comedy would be best or something with nudity*.


* female nudity only please

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Stockphoto Stats

I'm just finishing up my second full month as a stock photographer and I thought that I would discuss my stats. I have earned $6. I'm averaging 3 dollars per month, but the first month I had four downloads and the second month seven. Over the next three or four days my portfolio will increase from 18 photos to 30+ photos. The new photos are of Tracie, five or so are at the pool which can be seen in my flicker account, and the rest are of her wearing her various nursing uniforms.

This means that the new photos will be more sought after than the old stock photos because they show a smiling face vs. just being a shot of some object. Apparently it is hard to get people to model for you. At least in people's minds, I don't actually know how hard it is if you actually ask around. In any case having a smiling face in your stock photos is very good. Also I'm told that health related images are good to have so the nurse uniform shots should be pretty good.

I've also gone over my ad revenue for the blog. I'm averaging about $3 per month, but October is bringing up my average a lot. I guess pumpkin carving patterns are very popular and people search for them and end up clicking on the ads to buy them when they give up on finding free pumpkin carving templates.

Starting in august, I'm going to be devoting more time to pumpkin carving to drive more people to my site. I get the feeling that even if it is my strongest month by far, my stock photos will have out pace my ad revenue by far.

Selling stock photos is much more appealing to me because I am actually selling a product. Every time someone buys one of my photos it is like they are praising me as a photographer. They are telling me that my images are the best of the thousand or so similar photos for any particular search.

The ad revenue is still fun, but I can't help but think that they are getting clicked by accident. I mean, I have never really been surfing a blog or actually searching for something and seen an ad that was relevant to what I was looking to buy. Maybe I just don't buy things on line very much. Or if I was going to buy something on line I would just go to a site that I already knew about and wouldn't bother clicking on the ads.

-Gary Milner

Where is Jimmy Hoffa?

Somewhere in the neighborhood of forty years ago a mobster by the name of Jimmy Hoffa disappeared . We've been hearing about it every few months ever since then. What is so compelling about this man that they just won't let it go. Lately they got a tip that he was buried on a particular horse farm, so they spent two weeks tearing the place apart looking for him. I'm surely glad they didn't find him because that would have caused a 'daily'news story that would have lasted for years. They would have had panels of experts giving their opinions on everything, such as whether they think they are really Hoffa's bones, and how do you think they got there, and who do you think did it and why do you think they did it. Then they would put family members on and ask them how they feel about it and so on. Why am I telling you all this. Hell I don't know---it must be very though.

Heading Home

The tickets have been purchased. Les jeux sont faits.

We leave here July 5th and we're spending 11 days in Japan before getting back to Calgary July 16th. I can hardly believe it.

We are flying in to Tokyo but would like to see some of the rest of the country if possible. Any suggestions?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Tracie the Model

I did some photos of Tracie for the stock agency the other day. I took over a hundred photos of her in her various nursing uniforms from all of her agencies. Then the next day we went down to the apartment building's pool and did a series that look like this, with Tracie sticking her head over the edge of the pool.

I uploaded the stock photos to the agency yesterday, and I'm just waiting to see if they get approved. I get the feeling that most of them will, especially the nursing ones because medical publications have a high demand for stock images.

I'm up to 11 downloads now, and my portfolio is growing steadily. It is pretty exciting and I have to admit that I check to see if anyone has purchased any more of my photos from the stock agency several times a day. I have 18 stock images available for purchase and 17 pending review.

I should really be pushing hard to upload my limit every week (30 per week) but it is somewhat hard to think of ideas, and I don't think I'll get the type of shots that I want just walking around, but to be honest out of my 11 sales, two of them were photos that I took while wandering around only because I wanted to upload them.

If all the images now pending are accepted, I'll be 23% of the way to my first goal of a portfolio of 150 images. Hopefully Tracie doesn't get sick of modelling by then. Of course, at the rate I'm going, I'll be back in Canada before that happens and I might be able to convince a few other people back home to model for me.


Friday, May 26, 2006


Originally uploaded by garmil.
Dear Charlie,

I am very sorry about what happened to you last weekend. I feel terrible. If I was there I would give you a big kiss and an even bigger treat. I hope that you are okay. I will be home soon to see you.

Here is a poem I wrote for you.

Oh Charlie, he's my dog
His growl is ferocious like a weed whip
His fur is black and white like an old movie
Oh Charlie, he's my dog

Love Tracie

Thursday, May 25, 2006

How To: Take a Photo Like This

You set the shutter speed to be about a second long and then fire the flash when you take the shot. The flash is bright enough that everything in range will be able to burn out the things farther away as well as avoid camera shake, but the shutter stays open long enough that the thing in the background are bright enough too. They tend to suffer from camera shake, but if you move the camera on purpose, it looks cool.

In this photo, Tracie used the lens zoom to make the lights look like they were moving from the centre to the edge of the photo. In some of the other ones, we rotated the camera while the shutter was still open to make it look like the lights were swirling.

It's pretty easy to duplicate if you can force your flash and set the shutter speed at the same time.


Memories of when I was young

The quote of the day on google today is ---"when your eight years old nothing is ever any of your business." This reminded me of the way it was in my family when I was eight. Nothing was any of my business either but in my case this never changed as I got older. To be absolutely fair though I have to admit that they didn't consider what 'I' did any of 'their' business either unless it somehow interfered with their delicate sensibilities and required a reprimand of some sort. I've made the mistake of complaining about my parents from time to time and I've been told by people older and wiser than me that my parents raised me the "the best they knew how." Well ---finding out that my parents were just natural born buttheads didn't make me feel any better but what could I do but pretend that it did. Are you still awake? hey!

Happy Birthday To My Mom and Sydney Life

Originally uploaded by garmil.
Happy birthday to my mom who has the same birthday as me. Or rather I have the same birthday as her.

Here's a photo of her and my dad a few years ago at my sisters wedding. I need to get some new ones uploaded for sure.

I didn't do anything too exciting this year. I worked most of the day and then after work Gary and I went to dinner and then out to the Surry Hills Film Festival which was in the Clock Hotel on Crown Street...not exactly a big production but some of the films were really quite well done. Now it's about bedtime but it's hard to go to sleep early on your own birthday, even if you have only slept about 4 hours per night the past few nights running. Poor me:(

So life here in Sydney is pretty good. I really like the city...there's always heaps to do and life never seems dull, even if it really is. I decided to take a contract at the Prince of Wales hospital in Randwick rather than work agency for my final two months. The plus side is I know where I'm going in advance and when I get there I know what's expected of me. The downside which I've discovered a little too late is that (aside from making less money) I'm stuck in the job. With only 1 1/2 months left here, there are heaps of things I'd like to go and do and see that I might not be able to now that I'm not choosing my own schedule. Like I really want to go to the Whitsunday Islands for example and up to the Great Barrier Reef.... Well, hindsight's 20/20 I guess. A few people have told me that it would be no big deal just to break the contract but I feel guilty entertaining the thought. I committed so I feel like I should see it through.

We spoke with Singapore Airlines the other day who told us that if we want to stopover in Tokyo on the way home it would be no problem and would cost only $200 AUD each, so it looks like I'll have to brush up on my Japanese in the month ahead.

Anyway, time just keeps slipping on by....

So Mutter, Alles Gute zum Geburtstag ! I'll call you in the morning.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Happy Birthday Tracie

It's Tracie's birthday today. Happy Birthday Tracie!

I got here a little wooden kangaroo that hops down hills. We used our cutting board to make a hill for it to hop down. I also got her a sudoku book.

Tracie's loves to do sudoku puzzles. She's like the Rainman only instead of playing black jack or counting toothpicks she plays Sudoku.

Sudoku is a number game. The board is a nine by nine grid, made up of three by three sub-grids. Some of the cells contain seeder numbers called givens. The goal is to fill in the rest of the cells with the correct numbers. The numbers go from one to nine. Each number must appear in each row, column and sub-grid, but may only appear once in each row, column and sub-grid.

Sudoku is a fun game and Tracie is very good at it. She does well at most logic puzzles. (Which baffles me because she seems somewhat illogical a lot of the time.) Tracie can complete the game much more quickly than me and is much more likely to not make irreversible errors. She is so good at the game that she has started timing herself as a way of measuring how well she is doing, because simply completing the puzzle isn't enough because it can be done every time and is only a matter of time before you finish it. Even if you have to resort to a brute force tactic rather than a more elegant logical solution.

Happy Birthday Tracie!


Monday, May 22, 2006

So Dark The Con of Man

I'm reading Dan Brown's book Digital Fortress. I have come to the conclusion that Dan Brown should get over anagrams. He used anagrams several times in the Da Vinci code, which is fine, but to use them in pretty much every book you write gets to be a bit much.

While I was reading this book, the main villain's name is Tankado. Tankado allegedly has a partner who uses the alias "North Dakota" the main spy couldn't find any references to someone with the alias North Dakota, but could find references to an "N Dakota".

I couldn't help but think, "Wow 'N Dakota' and 'Tankoda' have a lot of letters in common. Could Dan Brown really be that lame?" I asked the girl I'm borrowing the book from if I was right and she said I was. It seems that if you're able to sell 100's of millions of copies of your books, you should several methods of picking aliases for your characters and different methods of giving clues to the reader.

See if you can figure this one out: "DRAB CUSS KNOWN"

-Gary Milner

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Da Vinci Code Poor Reviews: Explanation

Lots of people don't read books or read them very rarely. "The Da Vinci Code", by Dan Brown was and is somewhat of an exception to that statement. Lots of people read his book. Almost all of them enjoyed it. It has a fairly interesting premise, its paced fairly well, and when the villain is revealed the pieces all come clearly together.

The book as a mystery does have some drawbacks. Right now it is very popular to solve mysteries with science, for example the CSI franchise. Solving riddles as a means to discovery is old fashioned. However, religion is a really big topic in the US and Canada and as such the topic of the book is somewhat more important than the fashion the mystery is solved.

I read a study about th effect of television on mood. The study involved randomly calling subject on the phone asking them to rate their mood and then asking them what they were doing immediately before the phone call. It turns out that the average mood while watching tv is 'borderline depression'. The scientists theorized that this is because tv is an entirely passive medium. All you have to do is sit there and you are fed the story. Reading, on the other hand, resulted in a positive mood. The theory is that reading is something that has to be done actively. You have to read to get the story, not just sit there. You are doing something vs not doing anything.

This plays into why I think the movie is getting bad reviews. Like I said before, lots of non-readers have read "The Da Vinci Code". It is a pretty decent book, but besides that it is a huge success. People discovered along with the story, how fun reading actually is and beyond that how fun it is to discuss books with other people.

Now, these people who don't normally read may not normally enjoy reading for whatever the reason discovered a book and really enjoyed reading it and they really enjoy discussing it. Which is something that they wouldn't have particularly expected. Movies on the other hand are something that people do like. They like them a lot. they go expecting to be entertained. (Much like watching tv). Now if something like reading which is normally not liked or at least not done very much for pure enjoyment can be so good, people may be thinking, how much better will the movie be because movies are always enjoyable.

The expectations get set so high that when there are things that can't be done because of the format, it lessens the story and enjoyment of the movie. For example in a book, the author can just write what one of the characters is thinking or all of the characters for that matter. In a movie that is much more difficult and would require a narrator, weird conversations or excessive use of flashbacks.

Flashbacks in a book are better than flashbacks in a movie. It is perfectly clear that you are reading a flashback and in your mind you imagine them equally as well as the present time. In a movie however, you have to make it clear that it is a flashback or the audience will be confused (especially if they haven't read the book). One of the ways a flashback is signalled in a movie is to use a steady cam shot, a hazy focus or weird processing after the fact. Flashbacks just don't cut it in movies like they do in our imagination.

I think that many of the poor reviews are based on a few of these ideas and maybe a few others. Really the medium is the problem here, not the story.

-Gary Milner

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Da Vinci Code Movie Review

I went to see The Da Vinci Code today, it was pretty good, but I get the feeling that they are making it out to be more suspenseful than it really is. The Da Vinci Code is more of a mystery than a suspense.

Reasons to read the book rather than see the movie.

-Buying the book is cheaper than going to the cinema. Renting the book from the library is free.
-The book is more suspenseful than the movie.
-The book makes sense without the movie and the movie doesn't seem to make sense without the book.
-The heroine is a lot smarter in the book than in the movie.
-The characters are more developed in the book.
-The book misleads you more effectively.
-The book has a well defined 'a ha' moment while the movie's is pretty weak.
-Explinations that the writer can just tell you don't translate to a screenplay.
-If you've read the book you have a very high expectation of what the movie should be, and it isn't.

For me, it was just another movie. If you've read the book, wait for "The Da Vinci Code" dvd. If you don't like reading (or aren't smrt enough to read a whole book) watch the movie and ignore the hype, it's just another movie.

To be honest, The Da Vinci Code book is pretty much pulp fiction, but entertaining pulp fiction none the less.

-Gary Milner

Dip Your Beak Into This

Well, today I got paid my for my first full week of work, which was nice. It will keep the wolves at bay for another week at least and then Tracie will be getting paid too.

I don't know I if I wrote about this earlier, but I have a semi-permanent temp position doing document imaging, which involves, sorting files, scanning the pages and then indexing the images into a database. This way, the paper can be sent off to a warehouse never to be seen again and the data on them can be kept and searched through on the computer. Think of it as jpegs of everypage that are tagged to the database.

I've been taking my camera to work everyday to take pictures during my lunch break as well as on my way to and from work. Mostly for the micro stock agency, where I have 16 uploads already and seven downloads.

Selling the stock photos is proving to be quite addictive. I'm getting better at picking photos that will be accepted into the stock library and now I have more accepted than rejected. I wish I had started taking stock photos when I learned about istock two or three years ago, especially since I had access to that really nice camera at the Gauntlet for that year. At the university and particularly at the Gauntlet it would have been very easy to find models willing to sign releases for the stock site.

At the rate I am going, I will be making more money on the stock site than from my ads. It's pretty much a gaurantee that I'll be getting my first $100 cheque from selling the photos rather than the ads. I guess that it makes sense that actually selling something is better than hoping people will click on ads, even though it is working so well for Jeff.

I guess I'm about 10% of the way to my first goal of 150 uploads. I've read in the forums that anywhere between 100-150 photos is where people start to get consistant purchases of their stock photos. It varies with how many shots of people you have because stock photos with people in them sell a little better than still life shots. I guess I have to print of a couple of model releases for Tracie and I to sign so that I can upload pics of ourselves.

If a picture of me won't sell toilet bowl cleaner, I don't know what

-Gary Milner

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

How many is a brazilion

There has been civil unrest in South America lately and according to the news 12 Brazilion police were killed today. So---my question is---how big a number is 12 brazilion.

Myth Busters

I watched part of myth busters today and I saw an interesting thing. The myth was that you can use guns to hunt with under water. Every gun they tested did indeed go off under water but they weren't very effective. The first gun tested was a shot gun. It fired but blew up. You would not want to be anywhere near shot gun fired under water. The high velocity rifle did not blow up but it wouldn't hurt you much at six feet. However for sure nobody I know would stand in front of a high powered rifle even under water. When the rifle was fired into the water from above the water, the bullet shattered immediately when it hit the water, so it wouldn't have gone very deep into the water.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Canadian Roots

Beach Toes
Originally uploaded by Tracie Milner.
Gary and I went to the Aboriginal Film Festival at the Opera House on Saturday. It was a day well spent for sure. They showed all sorts of short films made by aboriginals from countries around the world. There were quite a few from Canada which I have to admit I enjoyed the most. Not so much because I'm biased, but mostly because I got the jokes. One of the films called "Wapos Bay: There's No 'I' in Hockey" I thought was especially good. It was a claymation movie about kids preparing for a hockey tournament. They had a spoof of Hockey Night in Canada with announcers "Ron MaCrane" and "Don RedCherry" who were so funny. Gary and I were laughing so hard and when I sort of came to consciousness I realized that out of the whole theatre we were the only ones laughing. No one else got it. Just us. seems like such a small thing but that incident has triggered a three day thought process that I can't yet really put into words. When you move to another country I think at first it's exciting. Once the excitement settles but you haven't yet become accustomed to the way of life you get homesick. I passed both those stages a while ago and I think I'm now in the stage where I've been living here nearly a year and I'm starting to forget little things about home. I remember for example when I first started working in hospitals here I was constantly comparing them to home and I was sometimes frustrated with how things were done here. But a few months ago one of the nurses I worked with asked me what the differences in nursing were between the two countries and I found it hard to even remember what it was like back home. I guess what I'm trying to say is that when I really stop to think about Canada and when I remember things from home, I become very nostalgic and I find myself really starting to look forward to going back.

Watching those short films maybe conjured up some feelings of belonging somewhere and feeling like you fit in and you 'get' the jokes. One of the films in the evening was an Aussie film and there were a few times when the audience went crazy cheering at things I wasn't quite sure I got.

It has made me think that this is probably one of the big reasons people are drawn back to their home town or home country. They 'get' it...they fit in...

Maybe that's not a huge realization but it's not something I've really thought about until this weekend. When I first got here I think I thought the main differences between our countries were language (mostly slang and expressions), driving on the wrong side of the road and the healthcare system. But over the year less obvious differences have become apparent...things like our values and beliefs. As an Albertan I have grown up with a sort of right-wing-work-hard-and-reap-the-rewards-and-screw-the-little-guy attitude. Aussies however seem to have a fundamental belief that all things should be 'fair' for everyone. I won't go into it but suffice it to say that as an Albertan this is sometimes very annoying. I wonder what it will be like when I get home. Will my beliefs be have changed ? Will I still feel like I fit in there ? I don't know...

I wish I could more be a bit more eloquent in this discussion...My head has really been swirling these past few days though. I have a whole new empathy for immigrants that I never had before though. It can be hard sometimes getting used to not just a new country or language but a whole new attitude about life and what's important and what's not.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Another Day, Another Dollar

I started a new job with the company that makes phone books and yellow pages today. They also have online phone directories and maps.

Today it was my job to sort out the paperwork that is generated when a business orders an advert in the yellow pages. Soon I will learn how to use the scanner to scan the pages into the system.

I imagine they are doing this so that when someone calls in to talk about their ad, the operator can type the person's number into the computer and then see all the paperwork that the person has completed. It would be very handy to have that all scanned and in the database.

It is my opinion that banks should do this with their signature cards as well so that you can go into any branch, with id and your debit card and be able to do any transaction there is.

In anycase then new job is very repetative and somewhat monotonus.

-Gary Milner

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Today is Mother's Day and I just wanted to take the time to write something about her.

Why I love my Mom.
-She took me to ECS with her.
-She made me peanut butter and jam sandwiches everyday for two years when I was in grade 7 and 8. Then because I was sick of them, she made me ham and cheese for the next four years.
-She picked me up from all my practices and came to all my games.

Really there are too many things to name here even though space isn't the issue and I can manage typing with a broken e key.

I love my Mom.

-Gary Milner

ps. This is a picture of me saying, "Have a great Mother's Day and another piece of pie!"

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Buying Souvenirs

I'd wager that it is good to collect things, but it is better to go on walks.

Having a strategy can reduce the chances that you'll do something dumb and buy a souvenir that is just plain junk.

1) Don't confine the notion of what a souvenir is.

Souvenir boutiques will be found in abundance in any major tourist area, but that doesn't mean you must confine your souvenir-hunt to specialty shops. Any token of your trip — from restaurant place mats to pressed leaves to local candy — can serve as a personal keepsake. If seeking gifts for loved ones at home, check department stores and supermarkets before you hit the souvenir shop — odds are you'll find something cheaper (and just as authentic) in these types of places.

Often when on camping trips, my Dad will make his own souvenir by carving a stick into a ladle or pancake flipper. Past favorites have included minature canoe paddles or spoons. I generally make pointy sticks, but I don't bring them home. But by far and away the most popular is the propeller. Once in a while he carves a propeller then scrounges a nail from a picnic table or camp kitchen and nails the propller to a stick so that it can spin in the wind when you hold it out the window of the car.

My parents are going to Isreal in a couple of months and I hope he brings a stick home to make me a new propeller. Even if he doesn't, I need to a new propeller to replace the one in the back of my car that is getting wrecked.

2) Save souvenir shopping until the end of the journey.

Let a souvenir be a souvenir — a keepsake of experience — and don't go off shopping for knickknacks before you've had some real travel adventures. Not only will this give you a social context for your destination before you start commemorating it with collectibles, but it will also save you the hassle of dragging this new found loot around with you as your journey progresses. An added bonus is that, as a shopper, you will have a better sense for the price and quality of your souvenirs once you've traveled and made some comparisons.

This is something that I've convinced Tracie of. Who wants to drag a digerydoo around Australia for an entire year. It's better to buy the souvenir when you know you'll only have to drag it home. Stuff is too heavy and we have too much already.

3) The experience is more important than the keepsake.

In the end, shopping anywhere is still just shopping. Don't let the hunt for souvenirs get in the way of amazing travel experiences.

-Gary Milner

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Things That Have Happened to Me On My Birthday

1995 Started a new job as a summer student at a military base's tech department.

1996: Falsely accused of attempted kidnapping. (I know I've made things up in the past, but this really happened, I even wrote about it in my journal).

2002: Started a new job as a teller at a Bank.

2002: Speeding Ticket on the way to first day of job.

2004: Fired from job at the Future Shop. Incidentally this was the only time I've ever been fired. All my other supervisors and bosses love me.

2006: Walked for an hour to get to work. Worked 12 shift. Walked for an hour in the dark to get home.

-Gary Milner

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Birthday And Stockphotos

Like Tracie wrote earlier, yesterday was my birthday.

Celanie and Earl emailed me a happy birthday wish on time. The thing I like best about Celanie is that she always remembers my birthday. Last year she told me that she wouldn't be calling on the phone this year because we would be here in Australia. I thought of telling her she could email me, but I wanted to see what would happen. She pulled through with flying colours just like ususal. Practically a Swiss watch that tells birthdays instead of the time.

My Mom and Tracie were the only other ones to say happy birthday on time. My Mom even got us a presant.

I've come up with a new istock goal. I want to get at least one photo per day worth uploading. They say once you have 150 or so photos, you get a lot more downloads.

I'm also going to try for at least one buy request per week, because they pay a lot more than plain stock images.

This photo of the bikes is my most recent attempt. Hopefully some one likes it enough to buy it.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Happy Birthday Gary

Gary in King's Park
Originally uploaded by Tracie Milner.

Just officially wishing you a belated happy birthday on the blog Gary.

It was Gary's birthday yesterday. We went out for lunch together but otherwise I didn't see him much because he worked overtime. He didn't get home until after 10 pm. What a hard worker, eh ? And on his birthday no less. But no worries. I think he had a good day anyway. He took my Ipod with him to work and he said that made a huge difference to how fast the day went.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sydney Harbour Bridge

The other night we went down to the circular quays to do some sunset shots of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. As we were arriving, a cruise ship was going underneath the bridge. We were too far away for photos, but we could see that it didn't have any trouble going under. It sped speedily out towards the ocean.

It was a nice night for photos, but we got there a little too late. It seems that the sun is going down a little sooner than it was in Perth, it may be because of which side of the time zone we are in or maybe the sun is just going down earlier and earlier as winter approaches. In any case here is one of my bridge photos.

We walked along the shore and through the botanical gardens to find a vantage point with both the bridge and the opera house, but by the time we got there it was very dark. Too dark even though both structures are lit up at night. As we were walking back, they shut the botanical gardens down and locked them so we had to walk the long way around. It surprised us that they would be locking them at 7:00pm but lock them they did.

I have my third day of temping in the morning. After work I may go in to a restaurant to get a job washing dishes in the evening. It isn't a good way to spend the week before Mother's Day.

-Gary Milner

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Milner Rd

This is the second Milner Rd that I've found in Australia. This one is in Alice Springs. We found it on the way to the caravan park.

We've been in Sydney for a week now. I've had two days of temping, both days at a bank's office. The same bank, but different office towers downtown. The first day I was putting color coded balloons on desks to help the IBM consultants to know what type of computers to deliver on what desk. They will be moving almost 200 people into the office over the weekend. The second job was to make nameplate and name tags for the banks federal budget announcement dinner. This one took the whole day and will probably take most of Monday as well.

The 'E' on my keyboard broke off. It's a bit of a pain in the butt. There are two clip on the bottom of the key that attach it to the keyboard and one is broken, so I can put it back on, but if I type in a certain way it comes back off pretty easily. I looked up keyboard prices online and a new one seems to be $60. It's something that I could probably do myself as I have actually removed and reinstalled laptop keyboards in the past. It's probably one of the easiest fixes to do because you have to take the keyboard out to fix anything else in there anyway.

Sydney is nice. We stayed in a hostel for a couple of days and now we are in an apartment. We almost took one downtown that has a killer view of the opera house and harbour bridge, but they wanted $450/week. As it is, we are paying $300/week for the flat where we are and we have two roomates.

The enterance to our flat is on the 12th floor, but our bedroom, the livingroom and the kitchen are on the 13th. Our roomates are on the 12th floor. One of the room mates works for company that rents the apartments out. He says that to buy a place like this would probably cost $500,000. I was reading in the paper today that since the end of 2003 property values have dropped almost 10% which means that if you bought a property at the end of 2003 and put 10% down, and you sell it today, you'll end up owing the bank money after the property is gone.

Sydney comes in 6th in the list of the 100 most expensive places to live in the entire world based on affordablitiy of homes. Sydneysiders should be prepared to rent for the rest of their lives unless they already own property.

We went to Bondi Beach today and to tell the truth, I don't see what the big deal about that beach is. I guess it's famous for being famous more than anything. It's pretty small, and almost always crowded. There were lots of people there today even though I wouldn't have called it a really warm day. In fact autumn is upon us, some of the leaves are turning yellow around town.

More from Sydney later.

-Gary Milner

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Kangaroo's Worst Nightmare

I thought the SUV you rented is funny. I think it has a snorkle on it for engine air, but then they don't want you taking it off road? I think they might be marketing to the tourists with that thing. :-)

Actually, yes and no. It is possible to drive through water deep enough to require a snorkle without going off road, but only during the wet season. I didn't get around to posting about the shortcut we took on the way back from King's Canyon yet but it was a gravel road and we drove through at least two river's (sans any water) and they would have both been deep enough to need a snorkle had there been water.
The short cut saved us just about 150km, but was over heavy washboard on gravel. We saw wild camels though and like I say it probably saved us a couple of hundred dollars in fuel and excess kms.
The river in Alice Springs and I presume every river for 500km in every direction from Alice Springs is dry 99.9% of the time.
It rained our last night there from about 10pm untill at least noon when we left and puddles were forming in the river and one of the main runoff channels was actually turning in to a large creek.


Monday, May 01, 2006

King's Canyon

Tracie and I both enjoyed King's Canyon very much. It is about 150km from Ayer's Rock. If you don't plan on taking the gravel road short cut back to Alice Springs it will add about 100km to the lenth of your trip.

King's Canyon is amazing. There are two walks. One straight up the canyon for about a kilometer and one around the rim of the canyon. We did the rim walk first. About halfway through the walk, you have to cross to the other side of the Canyon. At the bottom of the cross over, there is a short side hike to a portion of the canyon that has water year round.
We saw a tour group of backpakers going for a swim in the waterhole from the top of the cliff and decided to follow suit when we arrived at the bottom.
King's Canyon has steep cliffs as you can see in the photo, but on top, there are rock domes 10-15feet high all over the place. It is really amazing.
During wetter times, the whole valley floods with water and the eucalyptus trees have to endure flooding up to 10feet deep.
The rock is pourous and water seaps into it during wet times, then makes it's way into the canyon which is why it is so much greener down there and why there is water for most of the year.
King's Canyon also has way fewer tourists than either Ayer's Rock or the Olgas because fewer backpacker tours and "See OZ and Die" tours come here.
There is a nice resort only 10km away that has a hotel, bungalows, and tent camping, but it is much smaller than the one outside of the park near Uluru.
Stopping at King's Canyon was well worth the time and effort of driving there, particularly if you are traveling to and from Alice Springs on the train and have an entire week that needs to be filled.
I guess that makes it sound like filler, but it really isn't. It's just not an iconic thing like the other two attractions only 150km away.

-Gary Milner