Today's matter of perspective - what the hell is this? It is All Wrong I tell you! Answer tomorrow, if I remember it!
(Pics are mostly from Palm Cove, except for the last three - more on that later!)
Lyn wants knitting, Chris wants more conference stuff.
So I'll tell you about a chap I met in the aboriginal art place. I met *on, who was a cattle station owner (ie a ranch for Americans). He owned at least ten stations at one point, ran all sorts of cattle on them - buffalo, indonesian cattle - bantangs???, brahmins, normal beef cattle, plus llamas and pretty much anything else that gets around on four legs that has commercial value. He's past the stage of owning stations now - from his skin and those weird china blue eyes old people get, he'd have to be pushing 80. Anyway, he waltzes in to this place and greets the bloke in the shop. He's got a fancy cowboy hat on with the curled up edges, one of those leather "ties" on that has the two leather plaited strings on either side that go through the medalliony thing where a real tie would knot, the lairy brown shirt (if there can be such a thing), a heavy gold watch, really shiny teeth (I have no idea what his crowns were made of) and a huge gold ring in the shape of a buffalo head that is absolutely encrusted in diamonds. Plus his jacket was not done up properly. I guess you could call him a cattle baron. Don can't read or write - never needed any of that stuff cos he is a cattle man and he knows cattle. Who needs to read or write? He made plenty of money without two of the three Rs. He is an old fashioned bloke, and someone with ideas outside my experience and sensibilities. He showed off his flashy teeth a lot and did the old smoothy trick with me and kissed me (ick - he'd already had a couple of his favourite drinks) and breezed on out. He was clearly, at least in his opinion, FNQ's answer to God.
I just stood there looking, thinking, "They don't make them like that anymore. Thank heavens!"
You might remember that I had forgotten my speaker's notes. Before I found this shop, I'd called Nathan and asked if he could email them up. So he did, and Carl, the shopkeep, logged on to the net and said there you go, log in and print away! Wasn't that sweet of him? I bought a little "native cinnamon" bark pot from him to put sugar or tea bags in - it really smells of cinnamon, though it is not cinnamon at all.
On to the conference.
Can you guess how I felt when I discovered that my ex-boss was at the conference? Oh gawd. Plus the girl I talked to most, and her best mate at work, was there too. So were two bosses from Claims and some underwriters. The exa people all hung around together. I was forced to meet more people, so I hung out with some ex-exa people and talked to other people in the industry, and even danced with the vice president (worldwide) of RGA and told him I was a fanboy of his (which I am cos he is an excellent speaker with huge amounts of knowledge) and gave him my card, only he had been enjoying our excellent red wines so I doubt he remembers much. LOL.
I talked to a variety of people mainly cos though I am an introvert, I hate not talking to people when everyone else has someone to talk to. I actually found some that I could get along with without worrying about looking like a dork. I had a twinny - one woman had blonde hair and glasses like me, but she was thinner and more delicate (a better twinny for Chris perhaps?). People kept congratulating her on the paper cos she looked like me sorta. She would send the congratulators over to me.
The conference itself was very good as always. Only one poor speaker (a massage therapist who was waaaaaay too New Agey for an audience of insurance professionals). My talk went quite well I think - I asked them questions, they asked me questions, I only got all my slides set up 15 minutes before it started (but I had practised the talk over and over assuming those slides would be there). Noone asked me questions I could not answer, which is always nice :-) I had 5 Japanese people in the talk and only two of them had English skills, and one of those was not so good. I hope they could at least read English if not understand my Aussie voice (people often think I am English, which I find amusing). The food? Well I had to wrangle for it and was never too sure of what I was getting, especially when fetta cheese turned up on my plate one day and the garnish for a dessert was a "sail" of white chocolate.
Did I get a job out of it? No. I had been told it is a place where the Important People wheel and deal but I don't want to go back into Claims. I want to use my strong suit of skills, not rely on ones that I am not so hot on, or ones that form my Achilles heel. (Yes it is good to improve your all round skills, but to be forced to use the weakest ones day in day out is a recipe for disaster/extremely poor self-esteem and high levels of stress in me.) Is there the possbility of getting a job? Well yes but it isn't particuarly likely. The industry is bemoaning how there is not a course that people can do that pops out underwriters and claims assessors at the end, but noone is willing to put the money up to get such a course (or courses) up and running. A consortium of insurers have to get together and bite the bullet. Such training could use my skills - research and writing, and if I believe in the stuff, talking too.
I have to say that three nights out of four spent yapping and on the dance floor, plus the comparatively early mornings was wiping me out. Getting "home" at midnight and being out the door at 8:15 every morning was difficult. It is a huge social event with much drinking (not me though!) and talking and dancing. The theme night was Rocky Horror, which suited me just fine but other people were almost (ahem) horrified. They had a group doing scenes out of Rocky Horror and I had a blast. I got to do the Time Warp three times (possibly once too many). I got to sing along to Sweet Transvestite. The tables were "cobwebbed" and be-(rubber)insected. I felt quite at home. Other people felt a bit uneasy. LOL
The rest afternoon was excellent, even though I managed to screw it up some. I thought hiring a car was a bit expensive but discovered that the local buses run up to a place called Palm Cove, a few kay north of Cairns. Palm Cove has a loooooong white beach. You can see it in some pics in the link. Palm Cove has a loooong beach lined by palms (surprised?). It is an upmarket sorta place. $10 later for a 24 hour pass and I was there!
Well the brochures never said that the emerald/turquoise water and long white sandy beach would always look so pretty. They certainly didn't for me!
Y'see an easterly wind had blown up and was sending metre high waves onto the beach. The sediments in the water were all stirred up and instead of looking tropical, it looked like my local bay on a bad day. OK, the palm trees were still there and whipping around in the wind so it didn't really look like my bay.
At the north end of the beach is a spot where you can rock hop around to the next small cove if you are feeling brave. I was feeling brave, so I put my sandals back on and started hopping.
The path was not always very obvious, even though I knew there was a way through since people were coming the other way.
So I scrambled over the rocks, with every muscle in my legs starting to complain after two late nights and a lot of dancing. Then whammy! Stubbed toe! Badly stubbed toe! Flaps of flesh hanging off it type stubbed toe!
I sat down and felt a bit queasy for about 2 seconds until I realised I was dripping blood onto my sandal. I quailed and wished the emergency evacuation guys I had been talking to at the conference were there to airlift me out and fix up my toe. LOL. Alas, noone was going to save me bar me. So I got out a tissue and a length of yarn - of course I had some knitting with me! - poked the skin back down and covered the lot with a tissue tied on with yarn. It didn't hurt as much as I remember from childhood. I hobbled onward to the next cove, hoping there would be a way out. There wasn't but I got to wash the toe in sea water and sit on my very own beach and appreciate it for a while.
Then I rock hopped back, occasionally having to stop and tie on a new tissue. I wandered into a gallery in the "town" and asked where a chemist was. The closest one was in the next town down. OK, I guess I'll hop on a bus. Why did I need a chemist? Cos I needed to fix up my toe. You stubbed it? Yep. You could lose that toe, you know?
Can you believe I still bought a couple of prints from her?
The lady was exaggerating somewhat. *If* it was the wet season, *if* I insisted on getting the toe dirty, *if* I didn't clean the wound, *if* I was unlucky then there is the possibility that the wound would not heal and it could go gangrenous. But I had cleaned it and covered it, and bought stuff at the chemist to keep it clean and covered, so it was all well. I do admit it was three days before I could examine it closely beyond checking for signs of infection (pic not gross - no blood, pus or anything except for my unpedicured toes). The most annoying part of it all was trying to keep the thing covered - the tips of big toes are not well designed for keeping bandaids on.
My last morning in Cairns was a free morning, so I walked out the 4km to the botanic gardens (the bus runs every hour and I had just missed it). I was a bit disappointed in the gardens cos I really wanted bushland, which I found in the parks on either side of the bot gardens. The bushland was surprising to me for the lack of diversity I saw, mainly cos it was swamp. I didn't have a chance to look at the bushland up the hill out of the swamp cos it was look at that and miss my plane or don't look at it and catch the plane. I am sure you can guess which I did.
Can you believe that it is 5km to the airport (just past the bot gardens) and I had 20 minutes to get there in a taxi and it took *all* of those 20 minutes? Man, it must've been the slowest taxi ride EVER!
I only got to knit one complete sock and got to the ribbing on the second sock before I lost it for three days upon getting home. It is hard to knit in a darkened room whilst trying to take notes, but I did a pretty good job for the first day at least - I got most of the foot done and then ripped back for the shortrow heel. BTW, these socks are a tad too short for me, so some lucky woman with a ladies 8-8.5 size shoe will get them for Christmas or a birthday. Piccies? Ack. Gotta find the camera first!
Would I move to Cairns? Unlike a lot of southerners, I have to say heck no! It didn't really grab me. It was not as idyliic as I expected it would be. No beaches unless you go north. Too many tourists. Too many shops selling rubbish. Few of my favourite foods were there. Even things like fruit and veg put me off - apart from the tropical stuff, it is all trucked in from the south. You know that branching broccoli that is fashionable these days - the stuff that is on long stems? Well it is yellow by the time it gets to Cairns. ICK! If I had to move north to a tropical or subtropical clime, I would prefer northern New South Wales, or the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
Next time - the answer to perspective and at last some knitting/spinning/dyeing content! Honest!