Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Save Steve's place

Help make a difference. Sign this petition to prevent mining from happening in a wildlife preserve that was created in northern Queensland in honor of Steve Irwin. Signing this petition will force the government to decide whether or not to allow mining permits to be issued on the preserve. Unlike other petitions you may be used to this will make a difference. I added my name and thought it was worthy enough to post on here. Just click on the image, or go to

Cheers, mates!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hearts champion

After 1000's of tries, and only once before in my life, I have played a perfect game of hearts on Windows. The odds are obviously stacked against you when the computer is playing three of the four players. However, playing a perfect game can happen. I believe this is the first time I've played a perfect game with more than 5 rounds. Notice that the first two I got all of the points, which happened before as well. The program is probably far from random.

Anyway, there it is. A perfect game. Now I can sleep.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mobile Phones and Internet

Moving to Australia hasn't been as dramatic a transition as I had thought it would be. I don't find myself missing certain foods, shops, or much of anything really. With this one exception. They have a different way of billing for internet and mobile (cell) phones.

Let's start with the internet since it's the easier of the two to explain. In the States when you sign up for internet service you pay based on how fast a connection you want. I upgraded from something like 2Mbps to 6Mbps before I left Baltimore. The upgrade actually cost me $3 less than I was already paying. Go Verizon!

The same holds true for Australia. You pay more for faster connections, but they take it one step further. Here you also pay for the amount you download. That's right, you have limits to how much you can use the internet. Most plans start around 1GB / month, and for heavy users can go up to 10GB / month. For anyone who likes to watch videos, you're stuffed. For a point of reference, a movie on DVD typically runs between 4-8GB. I have a plan with my mobile phone that gives me 2GB of wireless internet, and a plan with the apartment network that gives me 4Gb. That's 6GB / month. I ran out this weekend. I'm probably going to pay through the nose in overage charges.

I suppose that having limits to how much you use the internet can be a good thing. We're quite spoiled in the States with unlimited amounts of almost everything. So, I can live with internet limits. Mobile phone billing? Here's how it works:

You pay a monthly price for a service package, just like in the States. For that monthly price you get calls, texting (SMS), bonus features, etc. If you sign up for a plan you get the phone at no extra charge (depending on how much you are paying). All of this sounds pretty much like the States, eh?

Here's where it gets weird. You don't get minutes, you get money. For example, when I signed up for the $69 / month "cap" I got $650 / month of calls and texting. They then calculate how much you used by charging you per minute or per text message. So instead of doing the math for you, that is saying how many minutes $650 will buy, you have to do the math yourself. That is, if you can find how much they are charging you per minute. Obscuring the billing by adding that extra step seems so unnecessary.

This billing method is not unique to one service either. One interesting thing to note, phone services were a government service until July 1997. Just like the States has a government agency to deliver mail to all residential / business addresses, Australia had an agency that ran communications including phones. The agency became more or less a private business, and now competes with other private companies. However, since they originally owned the phone lines and networks, they have an obvious advantage in the current market (although the customer service is reportedly pretty bad.) Maybe the billing system is a result of former government control.

They told us during our international student orientation to recognize that things can be "different" without being "wrong." For the most part I think I would agree. Mobile billing, at least for the moment, is wrong.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Arron, Aaron, or Erin?

You'd think I would have realized this much earlier than today, but the way I say my name gives people who are listening a picture of how to spell my name. For my entire life I thought you'd pronounce Arron, Aaron, or Erin the exact same way. Oh no. I tell everyone my name is "err-en," which apparently makes people think of the female version. I was instructed tonight that I need to say "ahh-ron." The group of my mates also added the jazz hands gesture to simulate the "Ah!" as an act of surprise.

Has anyone else been confused by the way I pronounce my name? Does anyone else think of different versions depending on how it's pronounced? I guess being in a foreign country means that even things like how you say your name can be significant.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Avery and I are proud to announce that a new addition will be joining us in December! Yeah! We are so excited and can't wait for our family to continue to grow!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

1 Year Coming Up :)

A year is about to come up soon and I remember what I read and I strive to apply daily. My dear wife Molliana; One year ago, the strong feelings of love I have for you. Only when we love God above all others, as the Savior taught, will we be capable of offering pure, Christlike love to our companions for all eternity. / Quoted from a Union of Love!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Banana lollies

These luscious beauties are banana lollies. I have always had a weakness for circus peanuts, and the easter version of chicks and rabbits. These are similar in texture, but are usually slightly stale. Hard to believe they can actually package staleness! Imagine if they did that with Peeps.

I decided to share this simple pleasure I've found in Australia for those wanting to know of the more ordinary, less exciting things I've discovered here. Funny how the little discoveries make a place special.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Koala spotting

Can you see him? He's right there! Some mates and I went to Noosa State Park to check out just how much better the Sunshine Coast is compared to the Gold Coast. Honestly the whole trip was a bit of a gamble. Rain was forecast during the day, and although getting wet at the beach is kind of the point, spending the better part of a day sopping wet isn't always that much fun. Luck was on our side and the clouds parted long enough for us to enjoy some nice beach weather. Ta to my mate who was determined to check out the beach one last time before he returned to the land of the Japanese.

Getting back to my first koala sighting, we saw him hiking along a perfectly modern (interpret that paved) path to the beach. We saw this nice lady standing in the middle of the walkway staring up at a tree. Pretty leaves. Oooh. Aaah. Being human we stopped to see what she was seeing. She can't have all the fun. Without saying a word the message was conveyed. "There's a koala in these parts." As I'm typing this I am laughing to myself. On the way back we discussed how the park probably pays people to stop in the path and look up at the koala so the incoming people know where he is at. There are no signs or anything, and I'm sure they try to maintain some kind of balance of experiencing wildlife without overly obnoxious gawking.

Here's a closer view of the little guy:

To be honest, I'm not convinced it was an actual living koala. He hadn't moved an inch between the time we passed him on the way in and then a few hours later on the way out. My theory goes that the park put either a stuffed dead koala, or a stuffed animal koala in the tree to help park patrons feel more fulfilled for visiting. Either that, or the much sadder theory, the little guy died a few days ago but no one has noticed. Well, that's morbid. Let's just say that he was chill-axin' and couldn't be bothered to perform a song and dance routine for every Yankee bloke who passed by. Showtimes are at 7 and 9 don't you know? (Yes, it's early morning and I should be studying so cut me a break on the rusty humor.)

Apparently the park is well-known for it's koala population. At the entrance is a statue dedicated to a koala that was hit and killed by a car a few years back. How they got the car up the tree that far is beyond me. (Actually I just read the plaque which says Harrold died from a dog attack. Who knew that dogs climb trees too?)

After a wonderful day at the beach, we stopped to enjoy just one of the wonders of this place...

Australia is amazing.