As promised, My Greatest Hits: Volume Two.

I Watch A Movie Underneath Roosting Bats!
We got there late so we had to sit up the back. Under a tree. Never a good idea in Australia. Amanda watched the entire film convinced a spider was going to drop on her. Bats were roosting in the branches just a couple metres above our heads and they never sat still…so little bits of things were falling on us. I tell myself it was bits of leaves and branches. But it may have been bat crap. It was pretty bizarre to be watching a film and have a bat flutter in front of the screen.

I Am Embarrassed For All Australians!
The laughter, however, was mostly directed at the worst haircuts driving/passengering in the cars. These were mullets to DIE for, some dripping with hair product. Now presumably this little car show is an effort to impress the ladeez, but there were no women around: the cars were all full of young men. Cars full of guys wearing pink shirts and primping like a peacock; yet most of these guys looked like the type that still use the word ‘fag’ as a derogatory term.

I See A Massive Python In The Wild!
I think I was laughing in disbelief the whole time. And then laughed again when my Dad, who was raised in Panama, said something along the lines of “It’s too bad there weren’t any forked sticks around, I would have picked it up and shown those kids.” My Dad, Captain Panama. HE WANTED TO PUT ON A WILDLIFE SHOW FOR THE KIDS.

I Finally See A Kangaroo!
I’ve often mentioned here that anytime I’m more than an hour outside of Sydney I’m constantly looking for kangaroos. Live ones. I’ve seen the dead ones on the side of the Hume Highway, but I wanted the real thing. Lifeless corpses lack a little punch when you’re speeding past them at 110 km/h.

I Contemplate The “Discoveries” Of Australia And Canada
Whether that makes any sense or not what is abundantly clear is that the stories Australians and Canadians tell themselves have made deep impressions on our collective psyches. Both countries emerged from confused beginnings to cut their teeth in a war that was not on their doorstep. While Canadians have a victory to commemorate, Australians have proven that even a tragic debacle can create meaning for a nation. And whether it was the Portuguese or the British, or whether it was the Vikings or Columbus, we will probably choose the story that is easier to tell.

I Still Sound Canadian!
But every now and then the Australian lingo I’ve picked up and my complete lack of an Australian accent come together in what can only be described as a Linguistic Train Wreck. Recently I used the term “mate” (as in “Sounds good, mate.”) with a friend and it was later pointed out to me that it sounded really bizarre.

I Protest APEC!
The protest itself was, as many of these types of demos seem to be since the invasion of Iraq, a bit of a mess as far as focus goes. Some people were there to bring attention to climate change, others were there opposing the occupation of Iraq, while others seemed to be more concerned about protesting the fact that the protest route had been moved and that there was a massive police presence (which there was). Protests shouldn’t be self-referential.

I Realize We Are All The Same!
Like any great piece of writing – whether fiction or non-fiction – Underground succeeded because it made me examine myself. With the hard-working, obedient, Japanese stereotype firmly ingrained in my head I began the book wondering things like, “Why the hell do you do get on the same car of the train every day?” and “Why would you spend so long commuting every day?” It didn’t take long before I realized I do the exact same thing. Each day I get on the second car of the train for the same reason many of the interviewees do: because it’s closest to the exit/stairs of the station when I get off the train. And each day I spend just as long getting to work.

I Liveblog A Canada/Australia Rugby World Cup Match!
11:00 KICKOFF: AMAZING. Canada has a player called Snow and another called Daypuck. DAYPUCK!
11:01: Canada’s “packweight” is less than Australia’s.
11:02: And Canada’s down 3-0.

I Don’t Listen To Myself!
As a bit of an Ocean Geek I was thrilled (THRILLED!) to see that Manly Beach was covered with Bluebottles that had washed up on the beach. At first I didn’t know what I was seeing so I enthusiastically scampered over to the creatures in my bare feet. Once I was standing over them I instantly thought two things:
1. These are probably Bluebottles and, therefore, painful.
2. I AM SUCH A MORON WHY DID I RUN UP TO THESE IN MY BARE FEET I WRITE ABOUT HOW DANGEROUS THIS PLACE IS ALL THE TIME IDIOT IDIOT IDIOT.

I Get Angry With Australia’s Refugee Policies!
But occasionally I really, really, find it hard to be a polite guest as every now and then my host says or does something that I vehemently disagree with. What am I supposed to do? Speak up? Criticize my host in their own home? As an outsider, do I have any right to criticize a country that has taken me in? Or should I sit quietly in the corner, nodding politely, pretending that everything is all lollipops and rainbows?

I Attend A Test Cricket Match!
Another pastime is the wave. It works on much the same principal at a cricket match as it does at a hockey game. When the wave hits your section, you get up, wave your hands, and scream. But there is one amazing difference in the wave at the cricket: when the wave gets to the Members Stand THE SNOBS DO NOT PARTICIPATE. They do not get up, they do not wave their hands like they just don’t care, they do not scream. That is beneath them. Of course, the entire cricket ground knows this, so even before the wave reaches the Members Stand, the rest of the crowd boos the hell out of them. I’d never been so proud to be a member of the proletariat. It was truly a sight to behold.

I Contemplate Australia Day!
Despite all the hatred for the poms, on Australia Day Australians celebrate, with great fervour, the arrival on this unforgiving continent of a bunch of Englishmen so despicable to their homeland that they had to be sent to the other side of the world as punishment. Australians, apparently, love their colonial shackles.

I Fight Another Spider!
If you’re in my house, you’re fair game.

I’m Convinced Someone Is Trying To Kill Me!
So not only are the animals trying to kill me here but fires and explosions also seem oddly attracted to me in the southern hemisphere. What chance does this poor Canadian stand?

I Drive The Great Ocean Road!
Victoria is a beautiful place.

I Document My Love For The Hume Highway!
“What delights lay beyond Holbrook?” I wondered as we continued southeast through New South Wales. Would Wodonga turn out to be the Paris of the southern hemisphere? Would Bowser have a Super Mario themepark? I drove on, eyes wide like a kid at Christmas, enraptured by what I might encounter next.

I Go To Goulburn And See Giant Sheep Balls!
There are Big Things in Australia. In Goulburn (one of the glorious bustling cities along the Hume) they have the Big Merino. It’s even anatomically accurate. In the gift shop attached to the sheep’s right flank we overheard a woman say to a man (with absolutely no irony), “You can climb those stairs and get right up inside the sheep.”

I Get Comforted By Econoline Crush!
But I’m back and things have not worked out like that. Things change. Some for the better, some for the worse. I still find things to take comfort in, however. On my second day back home, when I was feeling particularly stuck between Vancouver and Sydney, I was in the car listening to the 99.3 The Fox and Econoline Crush’s All That You Are came on the radio. It’s very comforting to know that some things never, ever change.

I Heart Wombats!
As we departed the Hume Highway we made our way to Bundanoon on a road that I’m pretty sure was called The Perfect Place to Dump the Body Highway. It was pitch black. The road was curvy. The speed limit was a death-begging 100kmh an hour (a narrow two lane country road!). And then all of a sudden, there were two cars behind us, and a few cars coming toward us (and they didn’t always get their high beams off quickly).

All this is a way of saying: NOT A GOOD TIME FOR SLOW MOVING WILDLIFE TO MAKE AN APPEARANCE.

But they did.

I Win Money Gambling On A Sport I Do Not Understand Or Enjoy!
People at work were not happy with me for a couple reasons. First, I obviously know nothing about the sport. In fact, I find it really dull. The Grand Final just wrapped up a little while ago and I didn’t watch a single second; I probably saw 15 minutes of game play the entire season. Second, I was tipping the last few weeks via email while I was on vacation in Vancouver; a Canadian beat them….FROM CANADA.

I Call Australians Fat And Lazy!
I’ve noticed that a rather high percentage of Australians when confronted with an escalator will simply board the device and then proceed to stand there immobile. Even if they are blocking others. I don’t think it’s so much a matter of rudeness as it is of laziness. Seriously, I get so frustrated whenever I’m on an escalator.

I Miss A White Christmas!
The only “white” Christmas around here is the unrelenting, blazing glare of a sun that feels as though it is just a few metres over your head.

I Spend The Better Part Of An Evening Trying To Capture A Bird In Our Apartment!
Armed with a broom and an umbrella, I at first attempted to shepherd the bird out the open window it trespassed through. I even opened a second window and rolled the blinds so as to cover the glass part of the windows. My kindness dissipated quickly as it became apparent that this was one of Earth dumbest birds. Instead of even going near the window the bird thought the ceiling was the way out. Idiot.

I Am Nearly Eaten By A Shark On The Gold Coast!
On our first afternoon on the beach I was body surfing (fairly well, I might add) in the warm Pacific water. Amanda was sitting up on the beach watching. At one point I came out of a wave and looked to my right and saw, much to my terror, a grey shape about two metres long in a breaking wave about 15 metres away. There was a fin protruding from the wave. After writing about shark attacks here for the past few years, my bloody, ironic death flashed before my eyes.

I See The World’s Largest Insect On My Front Door!
Insects that large should only exist in zoos and nature programs not on my door. I’ve seen smaller cats and dogs.

I See A Man Wearing A Snake As Clothing!
A live snake coiled around his neck as if it was a scarf. What. The Hell.

After Four Years I Finally Discover TeeVee Snacks!
Apparently I’ve been casually bypassing them in Coles for the past four years. MY LOSS.

I See Whales!
Amanda and I drove over to South Head today in the hopes of seeing some of the Humpback whales that are currently heading north along Australia’s east coast. We spotted numerous fountains of water from various blowholes before we finally saw, way out there, a spray followed by a small little breach of a whale.

Volume One is here.