gBallAnnounced today... Google and Aussie rules football manufacturer Sherrin have joined forces to put Google technology inside the new gBall footballs.  Here's the details according to Google's official announcement at http://www.google.com.au/intl/en/gball/:

 

The gBall at a glance:
  • Weighs an extra 107g
  • Extra 35.8mm in diameter
  • Kicks are automatically measured using special in-built equipment
  • You get personalised online kicking tips and suggestions, based on kicking data
  • gBall vibrates if player agents or talent scouts want to speak to you
  • Find your lost gBall online using Google Maps

I'm sure Dane will want one for his birthday in April.

The Google site doesn't say so, but I'm guessing... April Fools!

Trimming the palmTrimming the palmIt's autumn here, so I spent all of Saturday in the yard doing cleanup work that reminded me of the typical autumn tasks in Minnesota... minus the raking of leaves.  We don't have any deciduous trees in our yard.  Our only big trees in the yard are peppermint trees that don't shed leaves (an evergreen willow with mint-scented leaves).  Instead of listening to college football games while raking the leaves, I was listening on the radio to games of Week 2 of the Aussie rules football season while trimming our palm tree.

Palm trimming

I was going to write about the senior school "Formal" I attended last night as part of the teaching staff.  However, there's not much to write about.  It was absolutely no different than any prom in America.  Year 11 and 12 students dressed glamorously, arriving in limos at the Fremantle Sailing Club overlooking the marina on the ocean.  Fancy meal and dancing in the strobe lights with a DJ's top 40 American music all for $100 a ticket.  Teens acting as teens, looking more like adults. (Behaviour was actually outstanding!). The staff voted for a number of awards included "Beau and Belle of the Ball".  Kids all headed to their own all-night parties afterwards.  Not much else to say. (photo from the FSC web site)

Fremantle Sailing Club

Arrival at Perth AirportCarla and her travelmate, Ann, arrived in Perth yesterday.  They've been working their way across Australia for almost two weeks with stops in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island.

We picked them up at the airport and drove them through downtown Perth on the way to our house.  After a bit of settling in, we took them for a walk at dusk at Point Peron in Rockingham.  It had been in the high 90s but very comfortable walking weather along the coast.

The boys and I have been to Pt. Peron before.  You can look back at some panoramic photos I took then and a map here.

 

Halls HeadFor those wanting to keep tabs on where we're going these days with Mom S. and Ann, I'll be posting photos to the photo galleries, and I think I'll try to mark our whereabouts on a Google Map.  I'll try to update these daily.  I might not write something here in the blog daily so as to leave some stories for them to tell when they return home.








As we were returning from our picnic in the hills on Easter Sunday, we saw a huge plume of smoke as we looked toward Rockingham.  The fire crossed the main road home and thus was closed.  It took us nearly 2 extra hours to get around the detour.  One news story this morning suggested the fire was set deliberately - which seems to be typical of the bushfires around here. The fire was described as a "major fire" in an are of bushlandThe  between two parts of the city of Rockingham surrounding two large salt lakes that are currently mostly dry.  The firemen were unable to battle the center of the fire directly as it was over an area once used as an air force bombing range and supposedly has unexploded ordinances in the ground.

http://skynews.com.au/video/?id=41

We finally arrived home right at dusk.  The boys and I rode our bikes up to the lookout by our beach from where we could see the flames of the fire just 3 km to our northeast.  At about 9pm the winds picked up and took the fire across a rail line and freeway that separated the bush from neighbourhoods.  At about 11pm Lanette and I walked back up to the beach and could still flames.

Apparently the fire is under control this morning.  We've seen pictures of the fire right up against houses, but apparently no houses were destroyed.  780 hectares (3 square miles) were burned.  The smell of smoke is quite heavy in the air at home today.

Read the news story here, and here, and here and see photos here.

The photos below show (L to R): The plume we saw coming back from the hills; Flames as we drove nearby; The long queue of cars trying to get around the fire; The fire from our beach lookout at dusk;  The fire at about 11pm from our beach lookout. (click to enlarge each)

 

Baldivis fireBaldivis fireBaldivis fireBaldivis fireBaldivis fire

The Perth CBD (central business district) and the Swan River as viewed from Kings Park. 15 April 2009

 

Click on the image to view full size

Slow news here.  We really haven't done too much the last few days as we've been taking it pretty easy after several faster paced days.  I could post some more sunset and beach photos but that's probably getting a bit old.

More news to come this week.  Monday we're heading to Perth downtown on the train while Lanette goes to work at the hospital.  Then later in the week we hope to take 2 to 3 days to drive to the Margaret River area in the southwest corner of WA.

View of ANZAC CoveAustralian's have a long weekend coming.  ANZAC Day is remembered on April 25th and workers get a public holiday on Monday.  ANZAC Day is similar to Veteran's Day or Memorial Day in the US as it commemorates the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers on the shores of Gallipoli (Turkey) in World War I.  I'm currently reading the book by Patsy Adam-Smith titled "The ANZACS" which details the campaign which ended unsuccessfully 7 months later with a dramatic withdrawal of troops.  I'm reading it because the back cover says "If you have not read The Anzacs there will always be a part of Australia you will never understand."

If you're a war history buff, check out the excellent new 3D interactive site "Gallipoli - The First Day" just recently produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (The ABC).

So we'll be off on holiday for the weekend with most of the rest of Australia.  We've chosen to take Carla to the southwest corner of our state.  We've got two nights reserved in a rustic cottage just outside Margaret River in the wine and surf tourism area of WA.  We plan to visit a winery, shops, several beach stops, the Karri forests, and a sheep shearing farm.  I doubt we'll have Internet Access until Sunday night.

Canal Rocks near Margaret River WA. 26 Apr 2009

Incredible formation of gneiss rock eroded and cut by the ocean to form "canals" through which the waves and tide surge.

 

Click on the image to view full size 

Canal Rocks

In Case You Missed These Bits from Carla's Time in WA

Map of Weekend Holiday to Margaret River (and other sites from the last 3 weeks)

Summary of Long Weekend Holiday South

We had a very enjoyable holiday away over ANZAC weekend.  We headed down to the very southwest corner of Australia to the "Cape to Cape" area nicknamed after an 84 mile hiking trail from Cape Leeuwin lighthouse (at the convergence of the Indian and Southern Oceans) to Cape Naturaliste lighthouse, the next lighthouse to the north.  The popular tourist region is centred by the town of Margaret River and is known for its surf beaches and vineyards.  We stayed two nights in a rustic cottage just outside of Margaret River.

Augusta - Last stop before Antarctica Karl & Dane at Canal Rocks Picnicking at Canal Rocks

On the first day we stayed in the area near the town of Margaret River visiting a chocolate company, a vineyard and plenty of shops.  We drove down to the tip of the continent at Augusta on the second day to watch the waves at one our most favourite sites in WA.  We then worked our way back up the coast to the north driving through the thick karri trees in the Boranup Forest and popping out to see the coastline at several beaches along the way. We began the last day with a visit to a sheep farm where they demonstrated shearing and sheep dogs near Yallingup.  The highlight of the holiday may have been climbing on Canal Rocks, a magnificent formation of gneiss rocks that have been eroded and cut by the waves.

Carla's time with us is winding down now that we're back at home.  We'll give her a few more cloudless sky 80° days to lounge around and then send her off early Wednesday morning.

pythonWhilst with Carla on our quick holiday in the southwest corner of Australia, we had our first closeup view of a python. We were having a glorious time climbing the rocks at Canal Rocks. Peter was walking on an elevated walkway when he and others spotted a coastal carpet python (or sometimes also called a southwestern carpet python) just about 8 feet below the walkway crawling on the rocks. At 4-5 feet long, it was a small one compared to the normal ones of that species - averaging 7 feet. It hung around for quite awhile so we all eventually saw it from the walkway.

Coastal carpet pythons are not known to be aggressive, and they're from one of only two non-venomous snake groups in Australia (pythons and colubridae). Many people favour them as house pets. But pythons, in general, have large appetites.

Our Perth newspaper posted a news story with a gallery of photos today that were taken recently in northern Western Australia by some miners. The photos watching pythonwere taken over the course of five hours as they watched a blackheaded python swallow a goanna (large monitor lizard in the outback). You'll have to check out these photos. (It seems they're shown in the gallery in reverse order.)

As in the US, Mother's Day was celebrated in Australia today.  The only significant difference in the celebration is that the cards are all addressed to "Mum".  Our pastor used the following video as part of the children's message this morning.  Get ready to laugh!

 

Mother's DayWe didn't do much for the Mum in our house this morning as I had to scramble to be at church services in both Mandurah and Warnbro (30 minutes between).   Lanette did open gifts and cards after church.  Dane had done several wonderful things for her at school including a portrait and a painted mug that says "Mum".  Together the boys and I gave Lanette a necklace with a very pretty gold kangaroo.  We all went out to eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch.  Karl's friend Connor had done an overnighter, so he was with us, too.

Notice in the photo how Lanette was wearing a scarf today.  Though it's been unusually warm here for weeks (80's F), it is winter now and we only had a top of 22°C (72°F) today.  Yeah - that means scarf weather for those Minnesotans who've acclimated here.

Australian's do have a Father's Day also, but it's celebrated on the first Sunday in September rather than the third Sunday of June.  I haven't found out why it's in a different month here.