Friday, October 8, 2010


Phew!† I have been rather frustrated for the last several hours, as Iíve been struggling with computer issues.† I wonít even go into all the details; suffice it to say that I have had any number of problems.† I finally have Photos01 up on the website (I think!), and now I will try to catch up with a Ramblings.† I think that a major part of my computer problems is due to something funky going on with this network here at my hotel.† I paid 66 bucks for access while Iím here, and I think the network is weird in some way that is causing me all kinds of problems.† At least, I hope it is the network here, because the other option is that my computer has some kind of major issue.† I have found work-arounds for all the problems so far, but it has taken an inordinate amount of time.† It will be pretty interesting to see if the problems persist when I move on to other networks.


I know, no one is interested in all that crap, but keep in mind that one of the main stated purposes for these Ramblings is to make a record for my own use, so that kind of stuff needs to be recorded.† Iíll skip the painful details, though.


So, before I go into todayís adventures, I want to mention something from yesterday that I overlooked and then noticed today as I processed my pictures from yesterday.† While Melissa and I were wandering around the Royal National Park, we came across a snake in the path.† There are pictures in Photos01 (which I hope is now up on the website).† It was about 18 or 20 inches long, I would guess.† It looked like a harmless little guy, but I am not about to mess with snakes here in Australia, where they have something like 6 or 7 of the worldís deadliest snakes.† Right after encountering the snake, we saw an echidna, and I really regret that I didnít get a picture of it.


Anyway, back to today.† I was up at about 5:30 this morning, after waking at 4:30.† That was an hour later than yesterday, anyway, and I did have a good 7 hours of sleep.† Slowly, slowly I am adjusting to the time change.† It was still dark when I got up, but the flying foxes werenít in evidence over the park by that time.† Itís 8:30 PM now, and they are out there again.† These are bats, people, and they are bigger than our American Crows.† I like them, but I do find them a little creepy, too.† I wouldnít want one to get his little fangs into my neck.† There are pictures of them roosting in the botanical gardens, in Photos01.† By roosting, I mean hanging upside down by their feet, wrapped up in their wings like a cocoon.


I caught up on some computer stuff in the early hours, and exchanged Instant Messages with Christina.† Then I went out to breakfast at McDonalds, and took my computer, to try it out on their free wi-fi network, to see if I had the same problems I have here at the hotel, connecting to AOL.† Well, the breakfast was a success, but the computer experiment was a complete bust, because I couldnít connect to their network at all.† This made me worry about my computer, and I wasted a lot of time back here in the room, trying to ďfixĒ my computer.† The time was all wasted, and I still canít connect to AOL here in the hotel.† The final answer remains to be found.† Weíll see what happens at the next place I am staying, I guess.


I had a problem with my mobile phone, too.† I had paid 20 bucks for air time, but it wasnít showing up on my account.† I futzed around with the phone, and I tried the online option that they steered you to, but I couldnít figure out what keys to punch on the phone, and the website kept telling me they had a problem right now, and to come back later. †You couldnít talk to a person without paying a fee.† So, I took the phone into the Telstra shop where I bought the $20 voucher, and the guy there punched the proper keys on my phone to credit me with the 20 bucks.† Unfortunately, he must have chosen an option wrong, and my time expires in 30 days, instead of the 60 days that I had wanted.† I tried to fix that problem on the phone, but failed.† I guess I will just buy some more time in four weeks.† It was another frustration, though.


The next big frustration of the day was trying to catch the free bus toward the waterfront.† I wanted to go to the Botanical Gardens today, to look for a couple of birds that have been seen there.† I waited for the free bus (which is supposed to come along every 15 minutes) for 28 minutes before one came.† It stopped down the street, behind a long, double bus, a long way from the actual bus stop.† I foolishly waited, figuring it would pull ahead when the double bus pulled out, but no Ė the free bus pulled out around the long one and passed me by!† It was stopped by the light at the corner, where the bus stop was actually located, so I approached and got the driverís attention.† He just gestured toward the rear, as if to say, ďI stopped back thereĒ.† He didnít open the door, and after a while, he pulled away.† I said some words.† Then I started walking.†


It only took a little way for me to start laughing at how funny the whole thing was, fortunately.† Of course, within about 5 minutes another free bus came along, and passed me because I wasnít at a bus stop.† Funnier yet!† But, then my luck changed, and that second one stopped for a light, and I caught up, and this driver opened the door for me when I approached.† I would have been glad to pay for one of the dozens of busses that came by while I was waiting for the free one, but you canít pay cash for a bus ride in most of central Sydney.† You have to have a pass or buy a ticket in advance, at a place like a 7-11 store or similar.† I didnít know how to do that, so I had to wait to catch a free bus.† What a riot!† It was all part of my rather frustrating day.


Anyway, I got to the botanical gardens, and I looked for my birds (Powerful Owl and Tawny Frogmouth), but didnítí see either one.† I did get some pictures of the giant fruit bats (flying foxes), though, as I mentioned earlier.†† I had my lunch (a ham and cheese sandwich, made at my hotel) on a nice bench and got some bird pictures I like.† I especially like the ones of a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets at a nest hole at the base of a tree.† There is a picture of an Australian Magpie, too, a very engaging bird.† He had been around when I was eating my sandwich, but I didnít give him anything.† Then when I was eating my cookies, he came hopping and flying back.† I should have been more suspicious, but I ignored him as he approached.† The little bugger then flew up, grabbed my cookie and flew away with it!† Cheeky little devil!†† I guess I learned a lesson there.


I took some more pictures of common birds (Noisy Miner and White Ibis), and I walked down to the end of the gardens, overlooking the Sydney Opera House and the harbour.†† I took some obligatory tourist pictures, and caught the free bus back out toward my hotel.


I stopped off and bought some things I had been wanting to get.† I got an ice tray and a plastic glass for my nightly drinkies, at an Aussie version of a dollar store.† I also looked for a voucher for prepaid dial up internet access, as I will need that at some of the places I will be staying.† I tried in 4 or 5 places, until I finally asked at the local 7-11 store, and they sold me the voucher I wanted.† I think I have it registered and my computer set up to dial up when I need it.† That took some time, though, and more frustration, working through various things that were not clear from the instructions.


I also got some dinner at the grocery store (lasagna again, with some raw broccoli spears) and bought a little six-pack size cooler, to keep my perishables cool while traveling later in the trip.† It came with a blue ice slab as well.


Back here in my lonely room, I worked on my photos and had to re-learn all the steps I go through to get them up on my website.† I had failed to bring along the written instructions I had made for myself for the Britain trip earlier this year, so I had to re-invent the whole process.† When I got to the step where I upload them to the website, my software would not connect.† I struggled with it for quite a while, and ended connecting for an online chat with my website hosting company.† The guy there tried to help me, but we ended up failing.† I suspect it is due to the same issue that is keeping me from connecting to AOL Ė something to do with the hotel network.† I am guessing it has to do with their firewall.† I think it is blocking AOL and also my FTP (file transfer) program.†† I suppose I ought to try calling their tech support, which I have a number for, but so far I have not done that.† After giving up on using FTP to upload the Photos01 picture album to my website, I found a workaround, and it seems to have worked.† The workaround take a lot more time and is very complicated, but I think it worked.


I had another little frustration when drinkie time rolled around and I found I had failed to refill my ice tray last night.† No ice for my drinks?† Not acceptable.† It said in the little folder here in my room that the hotel had an ice machine, so went off searching for it.† I couldnít find it, so I asked at the front desk.† The woman there said she would send up a bucket of ice, so I guess there must not actually be an ice machine, despite what it says in their folder.† I got my ice, anyway, nice little cubes that worked great, and plenty of them.† I had been debating how much to tip whoever brought it up, knowing that the Aussies donít go in for tipping like Americans do, and the guy who brought the ice handed me the bucket and was off Ė no chance to tip him, as it turned out.


So, it was a day to work on problems, make some purchases, and make a round of the tourist sites as well.† I have never seen Sydney so crowded, and I realized along the way today that this is the end of the New South Wales school holidays, which is why it is so damn crowded in the tourist areas.†† Iíll be glad to leave the city behind and head out into the rural areas.† Very glad.† I love Sydney, as a city, but I really donít much like cities, and the reason I keep coming back to Oz is because I love rural Australia.


Tomorrow morning I plan to take a train out to a suburb and meet a local birder who is supposed to show me a family of Powerful Owls (a lifer bird for me), and maybe some other good birds as well.† Tomorrow should be a birding day again, as opposed to today, which was a problem solving and shopping day.†† I did add one species to my trip list Ė the Pacific Black Duck, one of the most common ducks over here.


Despite the frustrations of the day, I enjoyed most of it, and I am happy with some of the pictures I got, especially the Rainbow Lorikeets.


What a life!