Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ship Rock ][: The Sluggening

I had to go back to Ship Rock. This morning I woke up at 4:30am and just couldn't get back to bed, so I got up before dawn and headed to the beach for my first ever Australian Sunrise.

When I got to Coogee the water was so clear, and the first thing I thought of was like in Dancing With Wolves - "It is a good day to dive."

So I called up Andrew and he was like "We're already there!" ... but their tide charts were an hour off, and I had time to make it.

There was a 2m exchange that day and it was indeed clear.

We drifted to the southern end of the reef, passing eels, lots of fish and sunny clear-ish waters.

Pineapple fish and cuttlefish hung out in an overhang together.

... with a fat Wobbegong shark!

On my way back I was just cruising, and looked up in time to avoid smashing my head into a rock. This toady little guy was right there. This is by far the best seaslug I have ever seen, here or in Fiji. My lense was fogging up, which adds a glamour-shot feel to these pics.

Can you see its butt hole?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sydney vs. Seattle - Cost of Living

Some interesting comparisons:
  • We spend less on fuel here, even though it is twice as expensive (we drive less)
  • We spend 1% more on clothing here (retail prices are more like +15% actually)
  • Rent is 23% of our income here, compared to 13% in Seattle
  • We're able to save more here, and the quality of life is higher
  • Internet is constant at 1% for comparable wireless
  • We pay cash for a lot of stuff here, because there are a lot of places that don't take plastic
  • Health care was 5% in the US (out of pocket), vs. 1% here for better cover
Update: So, just having done our US taxes, we made much less money in 2009 due to the move (and subsequent unemployment), and paid far more tax. The tax hike was due to the tricky rules for how long you have to be in AU before your foreign taxed income is deductible. If I hadn't flown home for those 6 weeks last summer we would be getting back $2400, but instead we are paying $500. I feel ok about it - the US needs all the help it can get right now.
TOTAL INCOME ............................................................. US TAX
UPDATE: 2011 Cost of Living and Taxes below
So after a year I thought it was time to tally up the expenses again for a year-on-year comparison. Note that the data is taken from roughly a 3mo period from each year. For 2011 I broke out some more stats and compounded some others, like others+stuff = stuff 2011, and health insurance+medical 2010 = medical 2011.

Karin figured out we could file an amended 2009 return because we now pass the residency test. Note that you are only allowed to leave Australia for 30 days per year to avoid being double-taxed by the IRS. Also, the 2011 TurboTax interface is much improved over the 2010 version with respect to foreign income.

UPDATE 2014 - Long-term subjective review:
Sydney is extremely expensive.  Much more so that Seattle.  Although wages are higher.  You should ask for ~40% more coming here, e.g. 70k USD -> 100k AUD to maintain the same standard of living.  Housing is a big one, but then, once you have kids, it's the daycare which will slay you financially.  It can be easily as expensive as rent, which is insane on it's own.  For a crappy 2br apt in Sydney you can expect to pay $2000/mo.  So that + daycare can be as much as $4000/mo, and possibly more depending on your income.  Honestly I don't know about Seattle daycare costs, but this combination makes having a kid in Sydney ill-advised.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Batchelor Regresso Soup

Karin is gone to Canberra for a conference, I'm home alone.

I was left with fish stix, and I made them tonight. I will probably starve tomorrow.

Admire my bacheloresque faux marble countertops. And whole milk.

I had some icecream with icey blueberries to cheer me up.

An opposum or something woke me up this morning around 5am in my bedroom. I turned on the light and it was gone.

Yep, just me and my bachelor bros. Hanging around the house.

So lame.
You can tell this ones a male because of his "palps."

I hung out at Bronte with mates for Australia Day, and as the day turned to night, the locals turned to drinking and fighting.

I swam all day, snorkeling there in the waves. Its so fun to ride the swell. I learned that you have to ratchet to get in and out without loosing all your energy.

In the kitchen cooking chicken kebabs, I smelled the coriander. It instantly brought back memories of bailing hay in the hot Indiana summer. For an instant, I was looking down at my cut arms and smelling the humidity and Gary's old truck. It choked me up. I've been away too long. Then I realised that the coriander was probably bad, as it smelled of hay.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Double Shore Dives (Windy Point, Ship Rock)

A male and female laying eggs:
Shy octopus:

Puffer fish! Football sized.

Mama catfish!

These rays we disturbed were about 8 feet long... enormous! You get a sense of their size by how sluggish the takeoff is:

There is so much life at ship rock.

I was at the base of the wall, zoning in on some catfish hordes, when a Numb Ray swam at me. Andrew tugs my shoulder to get my attention refocused on the ray, which can deliver shocks of 30A at 200V (6kW!). Check out the vid. It seemed to be seeking me out.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Manly Men

We went for an anniversary date today. Up to Manly Beach - it's too manly for me.

Some old snorkler guy was perving at karin underwater and I had to put the smack down. Too manly dude. Actually I just swam in front of her.

There are two calimari squid in this shot:

The city was dramatic and moody on the ferry ride home.
Our house was still hot (around 98°F) when we got home, and a Huntsman was waiting for us in the doorway. We have relaxed a bit since first moving here.
Enough to get unprotected macro shots while wearing shorts...

We got Karin a wetsuit, which was a pain. You have to haggle at the shops here to get the fair price, which is stupid, and kinda 3rd worldish. Shmucks.

Anyways, double shore dives tomorrow so I should have some more interesting material. If I ever see a Great White I am never diving here again.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Around The House

We have a non-functional fireplace.

... with non-functional figurines I found behind ~~~~~~~ when I was 19.

(Little red hen said too much)
This is my toy frog from when I was 5. I toasted him once. He's a bit singed. Green power!

^ Ping pong!
Gizmode's escape!

I found this dried up husk of a decapitated male praying mantis today while cleaning...

Our new mossy net adds romance!
The hallway... leads to the living room and our porch.
Kangaroo kebabs. Our kitchen.
We found this plant in the condition at left, in a parking lot.

Sept 2009 Jan 2010 (4 months growth)
Karin got a bunch of nice middle-eastern rugs which remind me of my childhood because my baba always had heaps of old kurdish rugs on every inch of floor. So attractive!
Our porch plants look rowdy. These shots remind me of bad facebook bar pics because of the flash. It is dusk. *shrug*