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Sun, Aug. 28th, 2016, 03:11 pm
Europe 2016 in photos

Photos from 2016 European trip. I haven't done a full report, but you can find my live tweet of Disneyland Paris starting from this tweet, which includes photos not included in this photo album. Thank you to all my friends who showed me there is still so much wonder in the old world for a rat like myself to experience. One of the highlights of EF 22 was the rat fursuit photoshoot I organised. It restored a lot of my confidence in my ability to organise such things after my failure at trying to organise a rodent fursuit photoshoot at FurDU last year. Photos from this rat fursuit photoshoot will follow when the overworked photographer gets a chance to process them.

Sat, Aug. 13th, 2016, 07:37 am
Bakken, the world's oldest amusement park

Rattie took me to see Bakken, the world's oldest amusement park. After a lovely walk in the surrounding forest (which helped me get over my fear of deer) we entered the amusement park itself and I was delighted to see a kangaroo carousel as my first ride. I had a dof burger, which I'm told is traditional Danish fare and I liked it very much. Bakken is famous for its creepy clown, which has been a feature of the park from its very beginnings. (It makes me want to write a dark fantasy story about how the clown is secretly the one who started the park 500 years ago and has been using it draw energy from the children he entertains ever since.) The clown isn't actually as scary in person as he is on the website and he is actually very good at entertaining the kids. We both had a lot of fun and I was delighted to see such an important fixture of Denmark. Thank you Rattie, you really are the world's sweetest rat. (Don't tell the other rats or they'll be jealous!)

Thu, Aug. 11th, 2016, 03:55 pm
Impressions of Copenhagen

I've been in Copenhagen a few days, staying with the lovely Rattie.

We went exploring the first day I was there. There were so many bicycles! I think I saw more cyclists on my first day in Copenhagen than I have seen in the whole rest of my life. That might sound like a recipe for disaster, but most of the larger roads have a bike path that is physically segregated from both the drivers and the pedestrians so you don't get the same level of interaction that we see in Australia. It seems to work quite well over here. I imagine that Australian drivers would object strongly to the notion of paying for that kind of infrastructure for cyclists, but people would still have to get around and if they didn't feel safe riding they would have to clog up the roads and the air with more cars. Not that I necessarily think this model would work in Australia. Denmark obviously had a strong cycling culture and is geographically tiny compared to Australia. We have to go long distances just to visit friends.

I also noted that elevators don't seem as common here. Between the cycling and the stairs I suspect an evil conspiracy by the government to make their population more healthy.

Rattie says he's the only rat in Denmark. I can think of four in Australia. With our relative (human) populations, that would make a ratio of about one (furry) rat per five million people for both our countries. I wonder how well that ratio holds up for other countries?

Denmark seems like a nice country. I like the language and the fact that most people don't mind speaking speaking English for the dumb foreign rat. I like the architecture and the relatively clean air thanks to the cyclists and wind turbines. But I don't think the climate would suit me. It is only a few weeks out of summer and already it seems colder than Brisbane in the winter. I hate to think what it's like in winter.

So where to next for the adventuring rat? Berlin for Eurofurence (if you are attending EF as well and have a rodent fursuit please pipe up so I can invite you to a rodent fursuit photoshoot) and then (the highlight of the whole trip) a ratty pilgrimage to the Ratatouille attraction at Disneyland Paris. I imagine, much like Mecca, that is something every rat needs to do at least once in their lifetime, and I wanted to do my pilgrimage while it is still relatively new and shiny.

Thu, Jul. 7th, 2016, 05:47 am
Rattus Unboxing

Rattus has had a facelift!

Sun, Jul. 3rd, 2016, 11:09 am
2016 Federal election recap and predictions

That was a fun night last night! :) I always like a close campaign. The second #AusVotes election in three elections which looks likely to end in a hung Parliament. I think the major parties are going to have to accept this is the new normal and get on with it. Minority governments work well in many other countries; I don't see why we should be special.
I wanted to get on the record my predictions for the election results, which we won't know for at least a few days yet. I think neither party will get a majority but the Coalition will end up with their nose in front. Turnbull will cobble together an agreement (even though both sides swore they wouldn't!) with Katter and maybe Nick Xenophon or Cathy McGowan. He will still have a raucous circus in the Senate to deal with. The schizophrenia in his own party will deepen, likely ending up with him being pulled too many different ways and he will get overthrown (the fourth leader toppled by their own party since 2010--this really is a new national sport!). The alliance will break down and we'll go to an early election.
I am struck by the parallels from the 2010 election. A leader gets rolled in their first term, the new leader takes the party to an early election where they just limp over the line as a minority government. (I know there are important differences too.) That one ended in failure for both Labor and the Greens. (The Greens announcing an "alliance" with Labor was always bad politics and they should have known better.)
So where does this leave the gay marriage plebiscite? I'm afraid that will end up a political football (but it was always going to be anyway). The newly empowered loony right in Turnbull's own party may kill it, or he might use it as a wedge issue in the Senate if he is confident Labor and the Greens will block it. Either way, I do not see gay marriage becoming legal in this term of government. We can try again in a few years' time! :)

Mon, Jun. 27th, 2016, 06:10 pm
Furry Party of Australia

I have a tradition of doing a Furry Party of Australia flyer for every federal election. I haven't had a lot of inspiration this election but I didn't want to break the tradition. It won't really mean anything unless you keep up with Australian politics.

Sun, May. 1st, 2016, 10:51 am
The Doug Anthony All Stars are back!

ABC News interviewed them about their come back (fitting because they started on the ABC in the 90s). I got goosebumps when they started singing. But their songs have always been politically charged and this "we're back!" song was no exception. One line particularly struck me:
A pensioner, a cripple, and a human being!
Paul McDermott was singing and referring to the trio, with himself as the "human being". I thought it was a very revealing line about how we see people and label them. Tim ("Flacco") Livingston is a shoe in, but a well known comedian from the 90s in his own right and a long time collaborator so he fits right in. Presumably he used to be a pensioner (and I'm sure to some people's minds you never stop being one). Tim Ferguson is the "cripple". He is now confined to a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis. Only Paul, even though he's being hampered by his grey hair, still makes the grade as a human being.

Like me, they're older now (duh!) and not afraid to face up to it in their show. I want to go see them when they tour Brisbane!

Sun, Aug. 16th, 2015, 04:49 pm
RivFur 2015

RivFur, having been downgraded back to a furry meet, was a laid back affair this year, but I still managed to have fun at the BBQ and the closing ceremonies (where Rattus participated in a drawing game). The BBQ was special, because I used it to celebrate Rattus's 10th birthday. Hopefully I'll have photos to show you from that down the track, but for now I am pleased to showcase these photos from the BBQ:

RivFur 2015

Wed, Mar. 11th, 2015, 11:42 pm
Mardi Gras take 10: On a natural high!

It seems to have become part of my routine to give my own personal Mardi Gras wrap-up. My attempt to learn lessons from last year's Mardi Gras failed but it was still my best Mardi Gras yet! This being my 10th Mardi Gras in a row, I should explain why I keep coming back year after year. Lupie said it best, on a natural high at the after-party: We get to feel like rock stars, just for one night. That's what I come back for every year. Where else can a humble* rat like me experience huge crowds cheering us as we go past?

The furry float itself went off without a hitch (there were some last-minute dramas with the float but those got resolved before we started marching). I planned to march on foot this year, as sort of a tribute to Rattus's first Mardi Gras when he was only a partial and we all had to do it on foot, and I followed through. (Thanks to Dustan for getting my new external foot paws done at such short notice.) Doing the parade on foot makes it feel much more personal and immediate, and I was able to surprise some of the audience by handing out impromptu hugs and high-fives. It also meant I featured prominently in Channel 10's news coverage of the event. I've said before I do it for the crowd, not for the media, but it is a nice bonus. I was especially chuffed because this was Rattus's 10th and he deserved something special to mark it. I felt like I was entering an altered state of mind towards the end but I knew I was committed because there's no question of climbing onto the float once the parade has started (it's a safety issue).

But what are the lessons I failed to learn? I thought getting a room near the end of the parade route would make it easier but that back-fired. My unfamiliarity with Sydney (even with Google Maps, it's very confusing) meant I ended up still being around 3km away from the end of the parade route, and so far away from the start that the only way to get there was by bus. I ended up with a large entourage and organising furries is like herding epileptic cats. By the time we were all ready and waiting at the bus stop, it took several buses before there was one empty enough to take us and then it was a slow creep through traffic to get to Hyde Park (anyone would think there was some big event on!). To my great shame, Dustan had to wait for us so we could all get into the locked off staging area. Afterwards it was a trudge back to the room. I think I was better off with the room I had last year, though at least this way we didn't have to navigate our way around the Mardi Gras crowds.

While I was thrilled to get a photo of Rattus with Scurrow and to fan-boy him, I was deeply disappointed not to get a photo of all three rodents together (except in Logan Husky’s group photo of course). I didn’t think it was my place to be ordering fursuiters about so I let the opportunity pass. Maybe I should have been more bossy? I’m sure the furries thought me adequately bossy when I was trying to get them to Hyde Park!

I was telling myself that this was my last one, that I don't have to keep coming. But why should I stop? I am still having a great time and (as I proved this year) I am still up to the physical challenge of marching. I just need to get over my superstition that if I miss a year I won't go again. Who knows? Maybe in 2025 I could celebrate Rattus's 20th anniversary? I think I will need to ride on the float for that one.

* (Yes, I'm self aware enough to know I have a huge vain streak, in common with all rats and fursuiters. I was using the word "humble" ironically.)

Tue, Mar. 10th, 2015, 06:10 pm
Channel 10's coverage of Mardi Gras 2015

Here is Channel 10's news coverage, saved for posterity (or at least until Google takes it down) and accessible to non-Australians.

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