Goodbye LJ

It has been pointed out to me that with LJ's new TOS I am technically in violation of 9.2.8 and arguably 9.2.7 as well. I don't think this is a sustainable situation, so I have imported my LJ posts into DreamWidth Studios instead. I am sorry to go, I've made many good friends through this service, but for me this is the last nail in the coffin. I only really used LJ now for "longform blogging" anyway, with links into Twitter and Facebook. This doesn't mean I'm closing this account (though according to the TOS maybe LJ will close it for me one day?) and I might even still post links to new posts on DW when I make them for those hardy few still on LJ.

You can tell me how I'm overreacting, but I don't feel confident here anymore and it seems safest to have any archive of all my posts somewhere else.
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    You Are Killing Me--The Dandy Warhols
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Mardi Gras 2017 report

I did it! Another year under my belt. After I got to Rattus's 10th anniversary in 2015, it's been one year at a time, but my boss pointed out that next year is the 40th anniversary, so I can't miss that! 2018 or bust!

I flew in the day before, as is my habit, to give me time to acclimatise to Sydney and maybe catch up with friends. Everything seemed to go wrong with Friday, starting with getting out of bed. I checked my email and found Tiger had cancelled my flight 3 hours before it was scheduled to go citing "operational reasons". It said to call them to book a new flight. I did and was left on hold for 50 minutes. (While I was waiting I checked to see if there was any way I could do this on their website, but a phone call was my only hope.) When I finally got to talk to a human, she told me there were no flights from Brisbane she could put me on today, so I agreed to a flight from the Gold Coast when my darling and long-suffering raccoon said he'd drive me. Yes, I know I only have myself to blame for flying with Tiger, but they'd always treated me well before and I thought they'd cleaned up their act since they got bought by Virgin. I was determined to fly to Sydney on Friday because this was my chance to go to the Finnish Consulate to renew my Finnish passport.

Once settled into my room (I'd found a hotel right on the edge of Moore Park), I headed out to find the Finnish Consulate. Google Maps helpfully guided me via public transport to a construction site in the rain. It turns out they'd moved, but Google Maps had pulled the info from my Contacts which for some reason I'd saved from an earlier visit. It was too late for me to get to their new location so I made my way back into the CBD to explore for a little before having dinner with Belinda. When I got an SMS from her I realised my phone had not updated to Sydney time (I had switched off automatic time zone on my phone because it keeps getting it wrong in Brisbane) and I was running late so I had to hot foot it to the other side of the CBD. (Sydney is very big to a small town rat such as myself.) Meanwhile, Stephen (my frequent roommate for Mardi Gras) was having dramas of his own. His Virgin flight had been cancelled and they automatically rescheduled him for a flight later that night (Tiger, take note!) only to have that cancelled and he was rescheduled to fly in early Saturday morning. He rang Virgin but they were adamant there were no flights to Sydney that night. (It was raining fairly heavily in Sydney, but nothing like a storm.) He ended up huddling with other early starters in the only part of Brisbane Domestic airport still open at night. I spent that night alone and lonely, but at least I was warm and dry in a comfortable room and slept soundly that night.

Saturday thankfully went much more smoothly. I got to enjoy an early morning walk in Moore Park until I was drenched by a surprise downpour, but Stephen got to the hotel at last and there was much rejoicing. We took a bus with our suits into the CBD and got there smoothly without the full buses and crawling traffic. Leaving early pays off! We found a new furry who was even earlier than us and we set up shop next to a fairy ring and became the official furry gathering point for that year. (I think we had the honour of being the first furs he'd met irl up to that point--what a leap from never having met another fur to marching in Mardi Gras! I hope we made a good impression.) We were up towards the front of the parade this year and there was patchy rain so it curtailed my own exploratory impulses, explaining why I didn't take many photos this year, but the rain stopped when it was our turn to march. Another great march as always, thanks to Dustan and Loupy.

We went back to our room (still a long walk, but at least we didn't have to brave a taxi or Uber), freshened up and had a long walk to the Erciyes Restaurant (one of the few places still open at that time of night, but it was worth it!). Stephen had been holding up remarkably well on one hour of sleep, but after dinner it finally caught up with him. He'd wanted to go to the after party but he couldn't stay awake so we both had an early (?) night.

Sunday we got to hang out with Kamadan (an NZ spotty cat) and Vel (the only sometimes scary demonic platypus). We made it to the airport with plenty of time and enjoyed a drama free flight back to Brisbane.


I took a handful of photos which I left up on Google Photos.

The official float photographer took a lot of great photos, including this lovely one of Stephen and I (I took Rattus Alt because I feel as if Mardi Gras belongs to him):

The official Mardi Gras photographer took a great shot of the float:

You can also see the livestream of the whole parade (the time link goes straight to our float) here.

WA Senate election

Please bear with me as I rant about the WA election. I promise I'll do a Mardi Gras report soon.

On current counting (43.5% counted so far), the anti-science Fluoride Free WA party has won a Senate seat in the WA Senate with 0.36% of the primary vote. When you look at the preference flows, it's obvious they achieved this by gaming the system and getting just about everyone to funnel their preferences to them (I am suspecting most of the "Independents" in that electorate were plants for the Fluoride Free party anyway). It looks like the Flux the System! party tried to do something similar in other electorates, but not as effectively as the fluoride nutters did. I do have grudging respect to them for gaming the system so effectively, but I don't think in the normal course of events a party should win a seat on 0.36% of the vote. It's because of these sort of games that the Senate voting system was reformed in federal elections; I am hoping this motivates the new Labor government to reform the system in a similar way (giving power back to the voters to decide where they want their preferences to go) but seeing as the federal Labor Party opposed the changes so vociferously I don't hold out much hope.

EDIT: It no longer looks like the Fluoride Free WA party will win a seat, but it still looks like the Liberal Democrats, another nutty micro party will pick up a seat (although admittedly with a respectable primary vote), and this man is taking the credit for it. He basically is the reason that voting for the Senate federally has been reformed, so I suppose he has unintentionally done some good.

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.
  • Current Music
    Jon And Vangelis - I'll Find My Way Home

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!)


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.

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! :)