California and NYC Trip

I haven’t felt much like blogging lately, so this is a brief account of my recent USA trip. It was mostly for work, but I managed to squeeze in a trip to NYC and Monterey. Most of the trip, when I wasn’t working, I was catching up with friends and family.

First stop, San Francisco.

Catching up with Isis, Mansi and baby Maya.

Dinner at Greens Restaurant in SF with Jamie, Lisa and Isis.

One of Mansi and Jason’s Abyssinian cats. 

Another of Mansi and Jason’s pets!

Filming an AdSense video with Victoria in Mountain View.

Drinking the Koolaid on campus.

Next destination, NYC! I stayed with Masa for a few days in Brooklyn.

View from the Brooklyn shore.

Making a new friend in the park.

One of seven bridal couples I saw having photos taken in the area.

View from the Metropolitan Art Gallery rooftoop garden.

Doing what I do best 😉

Goofing off with Masa.

Dinner with Janice and Calman.

Hello Jersey Shores!

At the Google NY office with Olah.

And Nadia …

… and Isa!

Then it was back to Mountain View…

On campus, taking in the sites.

Nom nom nom.

My friendly tour guide, Gus, and giant green Android.

Making a new friend! Meeting Zoe Pollock.

Alec met me in Mountain View. We were able to spend a long weekend in Monterey.

My favourite animals at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the jellies!

Drive down the coast to Big Sur. Amazing scenery.

Gorgeous water.

Gorgeous, jet-lagged, husband.


Admiring the view.

The red woods in Big Sur.

Small husband…

Tiny wife.

Meeting the locals.

My brother and Michele drove down to nearby Carmel for the end of the weekend.

Back in Mountain View with the Ring family – Jeannette and little PJ.

Making more friends on campus! Meet Lola.

The Menagerie

The animals are totally nuts. Some days it feels like I’m living in a bad Cesar Milan episode. If only he would come and sort out the craziness for us … Still, they are super cute.

The Pooches Are Here!

The doggies moved in on the weekend – cue sleepless nights and animal chaos!

The girls went a bit nuts for a few hours, then Kahlua settled down, and Buffy continued to go nuts. Once she discovered the cat, she wouldn’t settle. She was determined that they would be BFFs. Xenia however is completely traumatised and wants nothing to do with the dogs. Hopefully they will eventually sort it out among themselves. The good thing is none of them want to hurt each other, so that gives me hope for a successful animal integration.

Kahlua snoozes through our West Wing marathon.
Oh hai, Dad!
Buffers on her pillow mountain.
Trying to slurp the cat to death.
Xenia finds a perch the dogs where the dogs can’t reach her.

Date Night – Dugongs!

A lovely date night spent in Pyrmont and Cockle Bay. We started with dinner at Bartino, the Spanish tapas place near work, then walked across to the Sydney Aquarium to see the dugongs I had bought tickets for Alec for his birthday.


Turtle ‘tocks! Apparently turtles wedge themselves in odd positions when they are going to sleep to prevent drifting.

Alec meets the mermaid.

Unexpected party of three.


Last stop, Lindt Cafe, for hot chocolate and chocolate shake for me.

Lovely, lovely evening out 🙂

Featuring Arthur, The Crazy Cockatoo

I would like to re-introduce Arthur, the sulfur crested cockatoo. He was raised mostly by Alec’s family after an unfortunate start in life, and is now, at around age 34, a vocal member of the family. He currently lives with Alec’s dad in Newcastle and has been left to us in his will – ruh-oh!

Arthur and Alec are old friends. He likes to scream “Aleeeeec” and have the underside of his wings scratched.
Nice birdy, but don’t be fooled. Evil lurks within.

Notice the dexterity with which he eats things out of his foot. This should have been a warning to me.

Oh hai!


Ummm …

Oh crap!

That blur you see is the birdy eating the front of my camera, which he then spat at me. Nice!

Lesson learned – only photograph cockatoos with a long lens. Don’t get close enough for them to EAT it.

Little Visitor

This cockatoo came to visit us on the balcony. After trying to steal some pink buttons from one of my shirts, he eventually got sick of me taking photos an inch away from his beak, and flew off to steal shiny things from another balcony.

Gone Bush!

We took Alec’s mum to Mount Kuringai to check out how the area had changed since she lived there. We packed a picnic lunch and head on into the bush for some nature watching and serious snacking.

Happy family shot

Sandstone cave. Very cool!

More happy families.

We then drove to Bobbin Head just for a look. As we were driving down one of the roads a family of wood ducks or geese (we weren’t sure what they were) stepped out in front of a car going the other direction. Luckily the driver saw them and stopped while mum, dad and all of the babies waddled across the road – straight under our car!

Why hello there little ones.

Straight under the car!

… and out the other side.


Time for a drink.

All freshened up and ready for dinner!

I Am Not A Nugget! Chicken Are People Too

I’ve been thinking a lot about chickens lately. I stopped eating them a long time ago, but recent reports and Jamie Oliver’s Fowl Dinners program has made me want to do more to help the poor little things.

I’ve read that about 50% of eggs labeled as “free range” are actually from caged birds because there is apparently no legal definition of “free range” that the egg farmers have to comply with, so they charge more for the eggs that caring consumers are buying, and still give the chickens a terrible life.

This weekend I have been trying to contact people whose job it is to handle these issues – the government. I have emailed the Hon Ian Macdonald MLC – Minister for Primary Industries NSW ( and the Hon Tony Burke MP, Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry ( I have also contacted the Department of Fair Trading in the hopes that they will care that consumers are being sold eggs that are labeled in a misleading way.

The next step is trying to find out which eggs are actually free range. I can’t find a list anywhere, except the recommendation to buy from grower’s or organic markets as they are more likely to be eggs from small local farmers.

I have also bought Alec, his mum (who is a chicken lover) and myself tees from PETA that have a chicken friendly message on them – “happy families, not happy meals”. I thought it was about time that I started to wear my heart on my sleeve about the animal issues I’m really passionate about. I also bought the PETA black singlet top, shown below – if the tees are nice and fit well, I am considering buying more.

In the past I haven’t spoken up much about the animals causes I’m interested in out of a concern that I would make other people around me uncomfortable and have them then either avoid me or make fun of me because I haven’t been a vegetarian for a very long time. I realised this week hat what matters is that that I speak up for those who can’t, so expect to see more post like this on my blog in the future.

You can read more about the short lives of chickens at the Animals Australia site Free Betty, or on the RSPCA website.