Friday, February 27, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I live on this conrner.

I have a vague recollection of waking up last night to someone yelling, but that's not necessarily unusual. I don't recall sirens. The section of Bathurst that I live on can be a busy area for late nighters. This is horrible.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Specialist Brandon Neely

Shortly after moving to Sydney, I would find myself in similar conversations with various individuals after they figured out I was from the US, which usually didn’t take them long after I opened my mouth. I was frequently asked who I would be supporting in the upcoming election. After responding Obama, the conversation would immediately turn to the Bush Administration. Two items usually discussed were the torture of detainees at Guantánamo and the lack of communication skills exhibited by the President. These issues weren’t discussed (politically) in terms that we (Americans) would classify as liberal or conservative. However, the fact that I made it known I supported Obama certainly opened the door for candid conversation regarding the 43rd President of the United States. I found the questions raised by many of the Australians I talked with to be the same ones I had been contemplating: How can we justify torture as a means to protect democratic societies? Why can’t the US President speak English properly and communicate effectively? These are neither liberal nor conservative questions, but they are questions about human dignity and language usage within a culture, respectively. Honestly, it has been weeks, if not months, since I have given these topics any serious consideration, until yesterday morning, when I read this interview with Specialist Brandon Neely, who was an MP at Guantánamo. It is a personal account of what he witnessed while stationed there. He speaks candidly and succinctly about torture. His interview is part of the Guantánamo Testimonials Project conducted by the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas. Of particular interest to me, because it fits nicely within the scope of this blog, Neely discusses his conversations with Australian detainee, David Hicks, who was the first person to be tried and convicted under the U.S. Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Meanwhile, Back In The States...

This gem from our good 'ole friends in West Virginia. Funny how they seem quite concerned about outside influences affecting their state constitution...hmmm, how ironic! I have to give it to 'em, they're video skills are far better than mine.

Monday, February 16, 2009

08:57 Walk

Sydney has a crazy network of underground walkways throughout the CBD—serpantine tunnels of endless retail, which link to food courts, department stores, and train stations. This walk is from Town Hall Station to Meyer Department Store.

A Short Video About Boredom

We lived in a hotel for about six weeks, while waiting for the apartment we had secured to become available. One day it was pouring the rain and I was extremely bored, so I decided to shoot some video about boredom. I shelved the project until the other day when I was having another bout with boredom. In the end, I wasn't bored, because I made this stupid video.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yikes, Another Shark Attack In Sydney!

This one happened at Bondi Beach, which is Sydney's most popular beach, at least for tourists. According to the locals, this is the heaviest frequency of shark attacks in many years.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sharks, Sharks, Sharks...

I don't get in the water. Here's the latest, which brings Sydney's total this year to four, or is it five?

The Fires In Victoria

Friends in the US have asked me about the fires in Victoria. Simply put, the news is horrific. This evening when looking for updated information on the topic in the Sydney Morning Herald, I came across this lovely piece.


Border Security

Having survived the landing, we made it through customs with little difficulty. I remember it was odd being in an airport where one wasn’t made to feel like a suspect. I’m not suggesting that Aussie airport security is lacking—it’s just a completely different experience than flying to, from, or within the United States. I’ve since been told that had I been flying from Thailand or another popular Australian vacation destination, I would have had a different experience. Many of the drugs smuggled into the country come from those locations, as this video clip depicts:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I thought my first day in Australia was going to be my last.

On August 22, 2008, my partner and I arrived at Sydney International Airport. I didn't think we were going to survive the landing. It was raining lightly, and the wind was a little strong. This didn't cause alarm, but during our decent lightning struck one of the engines. The flash and the following crack of thunder sent my heart through my throat. The silence throughout the cabin was unnerving. I realized this is what happens when people think they are going to die collectively—there are no screams, just silence. One of the flight attendants, who was sitting behind us, called the Captain in a panic, but he didn't answer, which made the moment excruciating for me. I've flown several times in my life, but I have only had three experiences that I would categorize as "near death." I remember looking out the window and thinking, my first day in Australia is going to be my last.