What a week – In Prague


Prague Bridges
Originally uploaded by Damien 666.

So much has been happening and this just has to sum it up … here I am on the Charles Bridge in Prague (locals call it the Karluv most) … Ended up in Prague as I’m currently working with the team at Oskar Mobile who are launching Vodafone live! in 2006.

Yes – I’m back at Vodafone looking after companies launching live for the first time. Luckily that means I get to travel to these places too … thanks to work!

So Ian and I headed over – me to work and him to just mooch (sic) about, but we did get a full day of tourist stuff including hanging out with the crowd from the Netherlands who were in town to for their world cup 2006 qualifier against Czech Republic (they won 2 – nil)

check out the rest of the photos to see what we got up too!

Tourism in Australia

The questions below about Australia, are from potential visitors. They were posted on an Australian Tourism Website and the answers are the actual responses by the website officials, who obviously have a sense of humour.

Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK).
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching
them die.

Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA)
A: Depends how much you’ve been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney – can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it’s only three thousand miles, take lots of water.

Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Australia? (Sweden)
A: So it’s true what they say about Swedes.

Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and Hervey Bay? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia?
(USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe.
Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not… oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is North in Australia? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we’ll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys’ Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is…oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia? ( UK)
A: You are a British politician, right?

Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It’s a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA)
A: It’s called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of Gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q: Do you have perfume in Australia? (France)
A: No, WE don’t stink.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Can you tell me the regions in Tasmania where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.

Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? (France)
A: Only at Christmas.

Q: I was in Australia in 1969 on R+R, and I want to contact the girl I dated while I was staying in Kings Cross. Can you help? (USA)
A: Yes, and you will still have to pay her by the hour.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you’ll have to learn it first

Coen Brothers, Kaufmann and more …

I actually wasn’t sure what to expect never being to a sound play / radio play before. I then heard it was only going to be an hour (sob sob). But for starters — 200m in front of me (roughly) were some of the best actors on stage and NOT ON A SILVER SCREEN. Real breathing people, like wow! and collectively you also have 2 plays written and produced by !Geniuses!

I would hazard a guess that this wasnt the first time this bunch of actors and writers had worked together either (aha! … hahaha) as it was the way the characters were matched to the actors and how the actors slipped in and out of their personas easily.

more again please !!!

It was the wit of the second play (Charlie Kaufman’s Hope Leaves the Theatre) which sucked me in more. Started subtly with the actors being people in the audience and ended with the unsubtle revelation of all characters and how they related to each other. Sometimes i missed these as i was to drawn into the story or just gazin at the actors faces.

But hey it was brilliant evening.

Carter Burwell, The Coen Brothers and Charlie Kaufman : Theater Of The New Ear
Original Sound Plays by The Coen Brothers and Charlie Kaufman set to music by Carter Burwell

Featuring:
John Goodman (YAY)
Steve Buscemi (YAY)
Hope Davis
Peter Dinklage
Philip Seymour Hoffman (good on him for Flawless)
Brooke Smith
Meryl Streep (way cool)

Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (O Brother, Where Art Thou? The Big Lebowski) and Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Being John Malkovich) bring the quirky drama and savage wit of their award-winning movies to the stage in a live reading of two original sound plays set to music by their long time collaborator, composer Carter Burwell. The Coens’ Sawbones and Kaufman’s Hope Leaves the Theater come to life with eight extraordinary actors, scripts in hand, joined on stage by a sound-effects artist and a live band to create multiple characters and parallel realities, located somewhere between melodrama and comedy.

AUSTRALIA GETS DRUNK, WAKES UP IN NORTH ATLANTIC

Tired of Being Isolated and Ignored, Continent Isn’t Bloody Moving

Sydney, 800 miles S. of Nova Scotia (SatireWire.com) — After what witnesses described as an all night blinder during which it kept droning on about how it was always being bloody ignored by the whole bloody world and would bloody well stand to do something about it, Australia this morning woke up to find itself in the middle of the North Atlantic.

“Good Lord, that was a booze up,” said a bleary-eyed Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, speaking from his residence at Kirribilli House, approximately 600 nautical miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

According to Australians and residents of several countries destroyed or lewdly insulted during the continent’s nearly 7,000-mile saltwater stagger, the binge began just after noon yesterday at a pub in Brisbane, where several patrons were discussing Australia Day and the nation’s general lack of respect from abroad.

“It started off same as always; coupla fossils saying how our Banjo Patterson was a better poet than Walt Whitman, how Con the Fruiterer is funnier than Seinfeld, only they’re Aussies so no one knows about ’em,” recalled witness Kevin Porter. “Then this bloke Martin pipes up and says Australia’s main problem is that it’s stuck in Australia, and everybody says ‘Too right!'”

“Well, it made sense at the time,” Porter added.

By 2 a.m., powered by national pride and alcohol, the 3-million-square-mile land mass was barging eastward through the Coral Sea and crossing into the central Pacific, leaving a trail of beer cans and Chinese take-away in its wake.

When dawn broke over the Northern Hemisphere, the continent suddenly found itself, not only upside down, but smack in the middle of the Atlantic, and according to most of its 19 million inhabitants, that’s the way it’s going to stay.

“We sent troops to Afghanistan. You never hear about it. We have huge government scandals. You never hear about it. It’s all ‘America did this,’ and ‘Europe says that,'” exclaimed Perth resident Paul Watson. “Well, we’re right in the thick of things now, so let’s just see if you can you ignore us.”

Officials on both sides of the Atlantic conceded that would be difficult. “They broke Florida,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. “And most of Latin America is missing.”

Meanwhile, victims of what’s already been dubbed the “Australian Crawl” are still shaking off the event.

“Australia bumped into us at about midnight local time,” said Hawaii governor Ben Cayetano. “They were very friendly — they always seem friendly — but they refused to go around unless we answered their questions. But the questions were impossible. ‘Who is Ian Thorpe? Do you have any Tim Tams? What day is Australia Day?'”

“Fortunately, somebody here had an Unimportant World Dates calendar and we aced the last one,” Cayetano added.

Panama, however, was not so lucky.

“Australia came through here screaming curses at us to let them through,” said Ernesto Carnal, who guards the locks at the entrance to the Panama Canal. “We said they would not fit, so they demanded to speak with a manager. When I go to find Mr. Caballos, they sneak the whole continent through.”

When Caballos shouted to the fleeing country that it had not paid, Australia “accidentally” backed up and took out every nation in the region, as well as the northern third of Venezuela. They then made up a cheery song about it.

By late morning today, however, not everyone in Australia was quite so blithe. “We’ve still got part of Jamaica stuck to Queensland,” said Australian army commander Lt. Gen. Peter Cosgrove. “I think we might have declared war on it. I don’t bloody remember. Maybe it’s time to go home.”

Cosgrove, however, is not in the majority, and at press time, U.S., African, and European leaders were still desperately trying to negotiate for Australia’s withdrawal. But the independent-minded Aussies were not making it easy. In a two-hour meeting at midday, Australian representatives listed their demands: immediate inclusion in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a permanent CNN presence in all 6 Australian states, a worldwide ban on hiring Paul Hogan, a primetime U.S. television contract for Australian Rules Football, and a 4,500-mile-long bridge between Sydney and Los Angeles.

U.S. negotiators immediately walked out, calling the Australian Rules Football request “absurd.”

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26 Thoughts to Get You Through a Crisis

1. Indecision is the key to flexibility.
2. You can’t tell which way the train went by looking at the track.
3. There is absolutely no substitute for a genuine lack of preparation.
4. Happiness is merely the remission of pain.
5. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
6. Sometimes too much drink is not enough.
7. The facts, although interesting, are irrelevant.
8. The careful application of terror is also a form of communication.
9. Someone who thinks logically is a nice contrast to the real world.
10. Things are more like they are today then they ever were before.
11. Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for.
12. Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.
13. Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.
14. I have seen the truth and it makes no sense.
15. Suicide is the most sincere form of self-criticism.
16. If you think that there is good in everybody, you haven’t met everybody.
17. All things being equal, fat people use more soap.
18. If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.
19. One-seventh of your life is spent on Mondays.
20. By the time you make ends meet, they move both ends.
21. Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
22. The more you run over a dead cat, the flatter it gets.
23. There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
24. This is a bad as it can get, but don’t bet on it.
25. Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.
26. The trouble with life is that you’re halfway through it before you realize it’s a “Do-it-yourself” thing.

Last Sightings of Turkey

so it was back to getting up early! well 630am! before a short ride to the port of Kusadasi and then goodbye to Turkey. The authorities are not organised and a tour operator (official) collects your passports and arranges the ferry boarding passes. Next time dont arrive early for the ferry or you get your passport back LAST!.

Saying goodbye to Neil in Samos I decided to go to Paros and maybe then on to Athens. Olympic fever is catching! The ferry was awesome and arrived just in time for sunset! WOW!

Thoughts on Turkey

All Turkish men shave there armpits .. weird .. dont ask me why!!

The land looks really hard and barren but they produce so much … limes, apricots, melons, sunflower seeds/oil

I’d go back to Istanbul in a sec … something about it appeals // perhaps its the age? or perhaps its just the bustling city?

Turkey is trying damn hard to move up in the world – and join the EU … so will watch it and maybe come back!

Day 2: Istanbul

Istanbul is the only city to cross 2 continents, were the past, present and future collide

Istanbul is real! I’m actually here! I am still just as moved now as i was 2 weeks ago when I left Aus. Weird, maybe this feeling will never go.

I sit on the roof of the hostel and can look over the water to Asia! I look to my left and see the Blue Mosque, on the right the Sancta Sophia, further over is the Topkapi Palace.

Today we started well – withdrawning 200,000,000 Turkish Lira or a bit less than 200AUD. Yes everything is in the millions! Petrol is 1,982,500 TLR per litre for regular and a Big Mac will set you back 4,100,000 TLR.

The Blue Mosque is just mysterious – both in design and from a sacred perspective. But its beautiful and has a such a presence. I’m going back on Tuesday to have a look.

Topkapi Palace is awesome and the single largest palace in the world. The Sultans ruled from here for about 4 centuries. The Treasury was amazing. Single Diamond found on the rubbish tip was brought for 3 teaspons and turned out to be 87 carats! beat the debeers! We made a wrong turn and walked in to the sacred room where items belonging to Mohammed the Prophet are stored. Including his hair! Again this is amazing.

Finished the Day with a bus tour around the city .. you have to do this to realise there is 12m people here and how old the place is. So much that will be left behind that Neil and I wont get to see .. but time is kind of against us already

Gallipoli tomorrow! Tuesday is more of Istanbul

What got me started on this Thing

I have always had this part of me that wanted to move to London. I grew up studying European culture and history and like so many others I had Grandparents who were born in the UK. At the time, growing up in NZ was still very UK-centric, concern about the impact of the EU, lost meat and dairy exports were on the news all too often.
About 8 months ago I was given a magazine article on why people do the Big OE. Suddenly I knew what I had to do, what I must do and what changed me (and changed quite a few others) Read it here.

Hey – now I’m two

1975 dec

This is Damien Saunders on my second birthday – this is one of those days I have recollections of. Purely stimulated by looking at this photo. Did you know I’m a natural blond?

The photo is taken at the back of 72 Trafalgar St, Onehunga, Auckland, New Zealand. The house was owned by my Grandparents.

The funny thing about being a December baby, is that Christmas always came a week later … my parents must have hated having two sets of presents and a ‘party’ only a week apart.