International Morning Show Jealousy

Some people have very strong opinions about religion.  Or politics.  Or food.

I have strong opinions about morning news shows.  Mock if you will, but I more or less hate all humanity before I’ve had my 20 ounces of coffee or it’s past 10:00am.  I have patience for almost nothing, my temper is short.  In this state, it’s playing with fire to subject me to crappy morning news programming.

Now, obviously, here in the states you have the potential for morning news show offensiveness at both a local and a national level. While I have plenty to say about local morning news*, my issues with the national morning news programs have been going on for longer.  Oh, sure I have fond early-childhood memories of Good Morning America way back in the Joan Lunden days, and I still have a soft spot for the old CBS This Morning jazzy version of “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning.”  But it all went pear-shaped when GMA took a nose dive, CBS destroyed their morning show and all that was left standing was NBC’s Today.  Maybe could have made it through with NBC’s offering, except that at the ripe age of 15, I came to loathe Matt Lauer with the fire of 1000 suns.  That sentiment continues, in force, to this day, no matter how much coffee I’ve had.

So, I’ve been adrift.  I’ve tried going back to the other networks–GMA has shown some improvement, but they aren’t there yet–everything is too forced and carved out of cream-cheese.  I even tried cable (Robin Mead on Headline News with her valley-girl inflection is only a hair more tolerable than Matt Lauer being arrogant). I kept looking for the morning news program that did what I needed it to do:  give me enough information about world events to avoid being a total nitwit in the conversations before the morning stand-up meeting, and not give me another reason to hate the world before I get to my desk.

And finally, at long last, in December 2010 I found the show.  It didn’t just meet those basic criteria, it went above and beyond.  It is the morning show of my dreams.  It not only didn’t offend, it actively highlighted everything that I hadn’t even realized was wrong with every other morning news program I’ve ever seen.  This show brought the thing that matters most:  The Funny.

Unfortunately for me, it’s Australian. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of a Time Vampire Part II: The Camera Returns

While I know I’ve acknowledged this time vampire before, the pesky little thing has come back around again–with a vengeance.

Last time down I bonded with a koala I named Lloyd.  This is not Lloyd.

Last time down I bonded with a koala I named Lloyd. This is not Lloyd.

In the wake of my huge holiday trip, I have pictures.

Lots and lots of pictures.

I am ashamed to say we’re talking not dozens, not hundreds but…thousands.  Of which I’m anticipating maybe 12 will be any good (when you don’t have skills, you wind up hoping the quantity will yield at least a handful of shots of quality).

Of course, to find those 12, I have to sort through the whole lot.  It took me a month to take all these things, but this time vampire of sorting through them promises to take a lot longer.  This is only a problem because I still have people I work with who are asking when I’m going to bring pictures to share.  I’d kinda thought the requests would taper off–after all who really wants to see anyone else’s vacation photos?  They’re just being polite, right?  Apparently not.  And I’m a little worried about what people are going to think when I don’t hurry up and bring something for them to see…

If you only know how many photos of New Zealand I had like this, you'd understand why I have no clue where on the South Island this was...

If you only knew how many photos of New Zealand I had like this, you’d understand why I have no clue where on the South Island this was…

Since I wasted too much time tonight on battling this time vampire (at least two hours of deleting just the total crap images–out of focus, over or under exposed, and I just barely started sorting the “readily viewable” from the “need cropping/touch up”–oh and the “WTF was this?!?” set), you may have noticed that I have once again attempted to distract you from the short length of this post with (semi) pretty pictures.

(Did it work?  Are you distracted?  No?  Yeah, well, consider having looked at this post a time vampire all your own.)

Lots of local school kids were out learning to wind surf right before they got out for December break in the Aussie town where I spent most of the holidays.

Lots of local school kids were out learning to wind surf right before they got out for December break in the Aussie town where I spent most of the holidays.


Sydney Style Memo

Attention men of Sydney:

You have officially surpassed all recommended per capita limits on males wearing girly pants.  For the record, the tapered leg look is a bad idea generally, so to allow more than half your male population to go about thus attired does nothing to improve my view of your city.  Guys should not be wearing their girlfriends’ pants. Ever.  The 80s are over, and “Don’t You Forget About Me” May be a fantastic song, but it’s no justification for reviving those tapered legs.

For a town that is otherwise so trendy that they should have stopped my fashion-fail ass at the airport, the men here are taking “metro” to new and terrifying levels with sadly NOT attractive results.  I am fairly certain judgement on my outfits and hair are passed more by the men than the women ( I am beneath the notice of the Sydney female set, all of whom appear to be petite and can bra shop wherever they want–If they see me, they assume I am a figment of an alcohol soaked mind, for surely nothing so chubby and worn down could be real), though I am not sure where they get off with those critical looks when they are wearing shirts that look like they are made from my grandma’s old house dresses and scarves from the ladies accessories section.

Playlist for a Time Vampire

Taking care of the music has always rather fallen to me in our family.  In the cassette tape days, I was the one coming up with mixed tapes for the road before family trips.  Then came the CDs.  Now it’s the playlists for the MP3 player.

I always considered it an art.  You need to start strong–usually up-beat.  I prefer to end on something slow and a bit melancholy.  You sprinkle in songs appropriate to the areas you’re traveling, you vary the genres, the speeds, and in the case of my collection, the languages to maintain a balance.  Occasionally you have fun, like the time I had an entire CD where back to back pairs of songs all had something in common–a phrase, a background singer.

My upcoming trip in the month of December requires special planning.  I’ll be gone for more or less a full month, and have probably 50+ hours spent on planes.  I’m going to need a lot of music, a lot of variety, some familiar must-haves (Reba, George), current obsessions (Lucero, Jaime Camil and Bollywood) some new music to tie to the new things I’ll be seeing (still to be identified and purchased), and, to add complexity, this is all happening over the holidays.  I’ll grant you that Christmas in the middle of summer in the Australian bush doesn’t feel very Christmas-y to our Northern Hemisphere set, but the thought of a holiday season without a shot of “Silent Night” is unconscionable to me, so I’ll have to mix in some holiday fare.

I’m left with a delicate task to balance all of these into the perfect playlist to cover the flights, a family Christmas, a side trip to New Zealand (Lord of the Rings soundtrack?  Check), and road-tripping for probably 6-8 hours with my entire family.

Unfortunately, I haven’t done myself any favors by neglecting my music library.  I’ve never really done a proper transfer and clean-up to the new server.  The lengthy library refresh-times as I’ve sat down and added in essential tracks and re-ripped CDs has delayed my efforts to begin constructing this playlist, eating into the dwindling window until departure.

If I would just load up the Mp3 player at random, it would be enough to satisfy most people….but I can’t.  The desire to score major trips and events in my life with the proper music is just too great.  Without the right sound, I’ll be thinking of what could have been.  I need this to fully enjoy the experience.  And if it devours as much time as the trip itself?  So be it.

Secret Heresies of Oz

So, Kristy’s the soap fan.  I’ve just never been bitten by the bug.  It’s always been a relief not to have to feel the shame associated with being secretly addicted to this much-maligned TV genre.

Then came my trip to Australia.  With only 5 or so channels to choose from, and 4 of them generally playing nothing but sports (and 3 of those being cricket), reruns of their soapy drama McLeod’s Daughters were a totally viable option for viewing.

Or so I tell myself in those moments when I feel that overwhelming shame as I’m eagerly streaming every episode on Netflix.

The series focuses two half-sisters running a ranch after their father’s death.  With all female hands.  And of course the neighboring ranch involves a family with only boys.  It’s kinda like watching a slightly more grown up version of those camp movies where the girls camp has to kick the boys’ camp at color wars or something.  Only with grown ups.  And more cows.  And sheep.  And Utes.  And hot Australian men in jeans.

I’m pretty sure it’s that last point that results in my overlooking any hokey-ness to snuggle up in the recliner and drool at the TV.

It’s also got fairly-amusing characters (Claire is my homegirl–jeans are always appropriate attire).  The South Australia setting is gorgeous.  And the occasional scenes in the small towns are a nice reminder of my trip down under.

And did I mention the the hot Australian guys in jeans?

A New Appreciation for Weather

I’m sorry to disappoint those of you who were hoping to see all Kristy posts here (among the disappointed?  Me), but I did return from Oz and apparently I have to take up my portion of the slack.

As with most cases of international travel, I learned a few things that maybe I should have known, found some more things to be jealous of Australia for having (TimTams), and found some things about right here at home that I’d taken for granted.

Like the weather.

Not the actual events in weather–rain, sun, what have you–but weather reports.

I’m a product of tornado alley, a place that kind of turns one into a weather-forecast connoisseur.  It’s not enough to have the high and low temperature.  I didn’t spend so many elementary school science classes learning the markings for a stationary front for nothing.  I want hourly temperature forecasts.  I want satellite.  I want radar.  I want wind speeds.  I want to know what’s coming at me a minimum of 2 days before it gets here.  By damnit, I can’t control the weather, but I can sure as hell know what’s coming at me.

Exposing me to Australia’s excuse for weather reports was kind of like taking an oenophile and locking them up with nothing but Manischewitz.  In the three weeks I spent down there not once did I see a tv weather report (or hear a radio weather report) that was even as comprehensive as Al Roker’s reports on the Today show.  I nearly lost it.

First of all, if you’re not in a major city (or at least a major city for your region–after all, Alice Springs is half the size of my suburban town), you’re not going to get jack from most sources.  Sometime we’d catch a bit on ABC which would show a few more places, including one that was only an hour down the road from my parents and thus a moderately appropriate approximation of the temperatures they would experience.

Second, assuming you catch some manner of report that relates to an area near you, you’re going to get a grand package of the high, the low, if it’s rain or shine, and, if you are very lucky, a synoptic chart with the wind directions.  No 3 day forecast.  No “power doppler” that can show the hook echo so you know exactly where the tornado is.  No cadre of amateur weather nerds who send in photos of the snow fall totals in their backyards.  Want to know if it’s going to rain tomorrow?  Well, you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow, and if it’s wet, you’ll know–they’re not going to spoil you.

I’m not sure if it’s just broadcast media that’s so devoid of weather reports.  I didn’t manage to get into the news agency to pick up a paper.  And I know there’s probably something more comprehensive online–but internet access is not as ubiquitous there as it is here (and sure isn’t as cheap).  All I know is that if you’re stuck with radio and TV only, it’s a damn good thing tornadoes aren’t as prevalent there.

I realize that between the 10 year drought the Australian continents been dealing with (nothing like weather monotony), and the low population density, it’s probably not easy to justify the kind of infrastructure you need for the 10 day look ahead in every corner of the country.  I can accept that.

But it made me all the more delighted to be back here at home where my local weather-dude has been refining his prediction for a winter weather blast twice a day for the past two days,  to the point that I knew that if I want beer, I need to get it by 6pm tomorrow.  Poor Australia.  How do you know when you need to get the beer today to avoid going out in the storm tomorrow????

Time Vampire Travels Again!

Yes, I know, I bitch about the time wasted during air travel with startling regularity.  But this time, well, this time, I’m beyond justified.

For those of you who’ve made the hellacious trip down to Australia, you get me.  I know you do.  Except for those of you who either got to A) Start on the West Coast or B) Had a direct flight to a major west coast airport.

Yeah.  I have two legs before I ever get to San Francisco.  THEN I make the hop on to Sydney.

And guess what?  Then I get to fly local to a place, which, while I hesitate to refer to it as “the outback” is certainly more off the regular tourist path than I’ve ever had anyone else talk about going (except my friend Jen, who was chillin’ with a local Aussie buddy and no doubt got the insider’s tour).  We’re looking at over 30 hours door to door.

At present, I’m just at the start of all this.  I’m sitting at my initial airport gate, which, sadly, is an American Airlines gate so no nice power outlets or anything here.  There are outlets.  But they’re dead.  Fuckers.  And I know DFW won’t let me have free power because they’re douche-bags as well (and also controlled by American).  Here’s hoping all goes well….and here’s hoping that San Francisco is less stingy with the electricity.