Can it all be beer & skittles???

Apparently itís starting to cool off a bit here as the good word is that the end of Summer has passed, without me even noticing it. Itís still hot & sticky, which is great when youíre playing "Doctors & Nurses", but itís bit rough when youíre just walking around the place.

Being over in Boise was a huge change from living in Alice Springs in that you actually got 4 separate and different seasons each year. It made a huge change from the 2 "seasons" my hometown (Alice Springs) got Ė hot and bloody hot. The temperatures are not really the issue for me, here in Townsville, itís the feeling of continually feeling drenched from the humidity. Give it 10 years and I should get used to it like the cold of Boise. ;-)

As youíd expect, things have changed a fair bit in the time Iíve been away and some of it is not for the better. One of the necessities of living here is the Medicare Card (more like a National ID card) which according to the Governments blurb "Medicare is Australiaís universal health care system introduced in 1984 to provide eligible Australian residents with affordable, accessible and high-quality health care. Medicare was established based on the understanding that all Australians should contribute to the cost of health care according to their ability to pay. It is financed through progressive income tax and an income-related Medicare levy."

Basically, Medicare allows medical treatment anywhere in the country as well as reciprocating privileges with New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Malta and Norway.

Trying to prove youíre an Aussie living here is not part of the "keep it simple" ethos. I didnít renew my Medicare Card when it expired in 1998 and had to go back 5 separate times in order to get a replacement card. The issue was that I could not prove I was here permantly. I had no available documentation pertaining to my house sale in Boise (why would you keep it), a job offer letter (not employed), utility bills in my name (staying at a mates place) or any house rental or purchase agreement (again - staying at a mates place). To them, I was not even in the country, even though I was standing right there in front of them.

They even suggested I get private medical insurance coverage. The trouble is, you cannot get it unless you have a Medicare Card. That wanker with the nugget of wisdom was about as useless as a pocket on a preacherís collar.

For those of you thinking moving overseas, be prepared to endure endless rounds of frustration with dealing with people who obviously perform to the minimum of their job descriptions. Unless all the square pegs are in the square holes, the Iís are dotted, Tís are crossed and in triplicate, then you are going to get the run around. The biggest issue that Iíve had is proving who I am and where Iím living for the exact same reasons as my Medicare ordeals. Fair dinkum, thereís got to be a better way but people just accept the fact that it "just the system at work".

The great thing about not jumping into employment, as soon as I landed, is that I can attend to all the issues that come up without having the time constraints of being on the clock so to speak. Iíve also been able to do a fair bit of wheeliní & dealiní on replacing most of the electrical items I had to sell back in Idaho as weíre on a different power system in Australia.

House hunting has been taking up some time as well. Talk about sticker shock though. The prices people are getting for places are a real eye opener for what they are offering. Stunned, fucked and amazed would be more like it, but I must remember that back in June I was a beneficiary of the crazy housing market prices, so itís all swings, slides and round-abouts.

Iím now more determined to build my own place now and have switched my focus to either a bare 1+ acre block of land or a dilapidates fixer upper. Hopefully Iíll have some good news in the not too distant future.

Saturday night I was off to Dairy Farmers Stadium to watch the local North Queensland Cowboys take on the Sydney Roosters in a National Rugby League (NRL) match. Fluxy and Sonia (whom Iím staying with) have Season tickets with a couple of their mates Macca, Pauline and Westy.

The footy match was fast flowing and on like Donkey Kong from the starting whistle. The experience however was soured somewhat as I had a run in with stadium security. Apparently I was picked up in the CCTV taking photos with my 100–400mm lens and they sent a Security supervisor over to inform me that I could not use my camera gear in the stadium. I asked where this was written. He wasnít sure, but that was the rule as he was told. I asked "what was "acceptable" camera gear" and he didnít know. Iím like – how can you enforce rules that you do not know what they are or where to find them.

He trundles off to find out an comes back to say that the NRL photographers were the one who want the rules enforced – but no one knows what those rules are. Talk about a load of bullshit.

I was a bit cranky about it, but what do you do? Itís not my fault I have better camera gear than the professionals. The irony of it all was that Iíve used the same gear at both Suncorp and Aussie stadiums during last yearís Tri–Nations and had no issues at all, go figure.

The evening was fun as we headed over to Brothers Leagues Club for a few sherbets and a bit of dancing to work up a sweat of sorts. A good bit of fun. ;-)

Stay Happy ;-)

Fitzy