Where to next?

I’ve been home from my travels for about a month and thoughts tend to turn to what amazing place can we go to next? ¬†ūüėÄ ¬†Everyone has to have something to look forward to right? ¬†So I’ve been¬†looking for pictures of where you can go to see the auroras (north or south, I’m not fussy) and instead keep stumbling onto pics of some The Most Amazing Natural Phenomena in The World! ¬†This is a list of some of the cool stuff I have found so far…

Asperatus clouds – apparently so rare they have only been classified since about 2009, no one knows much about them, so it’s hard to predict where they may occur.

asperatus clouds Bioluminescent waters of the Maldives – can you imagine swimming in this gorgeous phosphorescent sea? ¬†Caused by phytoplankton in the sea, I have seen tiny examples of this in beaches in Australia, but this would be magical!¬†bioluninescent waters maldivesbioluminescent Calcifying lakes in Africa – beautiful and dangerous, with such ridiculously high salt content, that animals that get to close literally calcify from dehydration and look like they are turning to stone.calcifying lakesColumnal basalt rock formations – okay, this is definitely on my list thanks to the Great Puffin Incident of 1995… seen at the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland as well as Fingal Caves in Scotland and created by lava plateaus that cooled and fractures into these unique landmarks.¬†columnar basalt Painted Danxia Landforms – beautifully surreal mountains created by sandstone and layers of minerals shaped by wind and rain into ravines, pillars and rock formations.danxie landforms china

Eternal lightning storm in Venezuela – at the mouth of the Catatumbo River, weather conditions and topography exists that creates an almost permanent storm that creates what is known as Catatumbo lightning on up to 160 days a year, for up to 10 hours a day and 280 strikes an hour. ¬†Would love to see that!Everlasting storm Venezula Fairy rings in Namibia – thousands of circles up to 30 feet across that are apparently made by termites killing off vegetation so that any moisture is available for the insects’ use and not plants. ¬†Looks interesting, but the bugs would out me off looking for this place.Fairy circles namibia fairy circles namibia2 Spider webs in Australia after flooding – thousands and thousands of spiders spinning webs above floodwater level just to freak us out. ¬†Yep, so not ever putting this on my ‘to go to’ list, but it is a cool photo.fields of spider webs 1 Fire rainbows¬†– created by light reflecting from ice crystals in very high clouds, often appearing parallel o the horizon. ¬†Looks beautiful, sounds really bloody cold.fire rainbows Great flowering desert in Chile – obviously you need to pick to go at the right time of year, because this doesn’t look too appealing. ¬†Second view in spring however, looks amazing.flowering desert chile 1 flowering desert chile 2 Frost flowers – so pretty. ¬†Mostly found in Arctic ares (why is all the pretty stuff in the freezing cold!), the flower ice formations form on thin sea ice when the atmosphere is colder than the ice. ¬†When the warmer air from the ice meets the colder air, funky ice crystals form making fields of frosty flowers.frost flowers arctic 2 frost flowers arctic

Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan – da.da.da! ¬†Sounds dramatic and probably looks awesome. ¬†It’s been burning since 1971 when natural gas emitted from cracks in the land were set alight. ¬†Apparently there is another similar phenomena in Iraq that they claim has been 4,000 years… why does the cool stuff have to be so remote? ¬†ūüôāGateway to hell turkmenistan 1 Gateway to hell turkmenistanUnderground glacial caves – ice caves formed by water erodes into the glacier. So beautiful from the blue glacial ice, which is formed by tightly packed ice. ¬†I went to the Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska (bottom photo), but oddly enough, there were no guided tours offered for your average tourist to go adventuring in enormous underground ice caverns.
Glacial Ice caves 1 glacial ice caves mendenhall Blue holes in Belize Рthese were apparently formed during the last Ice Age when the water level was much lower and the holes were basically formed by erosion.  The sea water rises and the holes filled up, creating a unique scuba diving opportunity and a rare underwater environment.  Very cool. Great Blue Hole BelizeHorsetail Falls Рtumbling down the side of El Capitain in Yosemite, these enormous waterfalls have a few days a year in February when the light hits them just so, causing them to light up like they are on fire.  Yosemite is definitely on my list.
jorsetail falls california Lenticular cloud formations – these clouds are created by layers of moist air flowing over a mountain and they pile up into a strange UFO/hat shape. ¬†I saw tiny lenticular cloud forms when I was in Canada an they were way cool – but probably hard to go hunting as a holiday destination.lenticular clouds 2 lenticular clouds Russian light pillars – these pillars of light are formed by natural light reflecting off flat and smooth light crystals but are only visible under extremely cold weather conditions … which I imagine for Russia, is bitterly cold. ¬†So maybe not.light pillars russia 1 light pillars russia Maelstroms – this one is called Saltstraumen, located off Norway. ¬†These powerful whirlpools are created by conflicted tidal flows meeting and can easily suck down swimmers and small boats. ¬† I’d love to see one, but have a feeling going near anything like this is just bloody stupid.maelstomsMonarch butterfly migration – from North America¬†to Mexico, the butterfly migrate 2,500 miles to seek out warmer weather for winter. ¬†Millions of them swarm together filling the sky with black and orange… ooh. ¬†aah. ¬†pretty.
monarch butterfly migration us 1 monarch butterfly migration us 2 Nacreous clouds in the Arctic Рthese gorgeous formations actually appear very rarely in the stratosphere due to a complete lack of moisture closer to the earth for cloud formation.  Apparently they have been seen in extreme polar winters when there is just enough moisture to form, and occur about 12 miles above the earth.  I would love to see that.  So cold though.nacreous clouds arcticSailing Stones, Death Valley, California.  These are so cool.  Always wanted to go hunting for rocks that creep along the ground by themselves.  For ages, no one knew how they moved, but it turns out that in the winter, tiny ice crystals formed around the rocks and then slide across the moisture in the mud, leaving crazy trails behind them.  Some of them are like, 300kgs!
sailing stones death valley california 2 sailing stones death valley california Now this would be cool – the Sardine Run off South Africa. ¬†Apparently the sardines move by the billions from cool waters at Cape Point to the East Coast of South Africa. ¬†When the sardines are on the move, there are so many of them, they can be seen from satellites in space and sharks in feeding frenzies take full advantage of their sheer numbers. ¬†Scuba diving anyone?sardine run south africa 2 sardine run south africa Sky punch clouds – a sky punch appears in clouds when ice crystals in the middle of a cloud formation begin to evaporate. ¬†No idea how you predict where they would be – but cool natural phenomena. ¬†sky punch 1 skypunch 2 skypunch3Fumarole snow chimneys – normal fumaroles are vents which allow steam to vent from areas of volcanic activity. ¬†If these vents are in Arctic areas, the moisture venting from the fumarole freezes as soon as it meets the air creating funky looking snow chimneys. ¬†Again… why is so much of all the groovy stuff in the areas of the earth where you’re likely to freeze your fricken butt off?snow chimney arctic Fly Geyser, Nevada – this unusual place was discovered accidentally sometime in the 60s when well drilling for geothermal energy sources was being performed on the Fly Ranch in Nevada. ¬†So while not 100% a natural phenomena, the resulting geyser has brought to the surface numerous minerals that have been flowing into 30-40 pools across a 34 hectacre area, enabling thermophilic algae to thrive, which creates the beautiful striped colours on the geyser. ¬†It’s on private property though, so bugger on that front.¬†fly geyser nevada fly-geyser3 flygeyser2Moeraki Boulders, South Island, New Zealand – these rock formations¬†are naturally formed spherical boulders at Keokehe Beach. ¬†The giant balls were formed up to 60 million years ago under the seafloor by compressed sediment hardening into stone. ¬†I have been to these boulders three times – taken pics of my kids clambering on them! – and think they are one of the coolest natural phenomena ever.Spherical Boulders moerakimoeraki-new-zealand-

Spotted Lake, British Columbia, Canada Рas the water evaporates from this lake near Osoyoos, various minerals pool together together to form what look like large lily pads.  Each pool of minerals has a different shape and colour due to the wide variety found in the lake.  spotted lake canada

spotted lake candada 2 Steam towers in Iceland – the region of Hverir is naturally high in geothermal activity which sees large towers of steam emanate from the boiling water and mud in the area. ¬†When combined with the ethereal beauty of the northern lights, the steam towers create an otherworldly landscape. ¬†¬†Steam Towers Iceland Hverir striated icebergs antarctica Striated glacial icebergs – the gorgeous stripes form in icebergs in various ways. ¬†Sometimes when crevices fill with water and freezes so quickly that no bubbles form creating bright blue stripes. ¬†Green stripes appear when algae attaches to icebergs as they tumble into the seas, and the brown, black and yellowish lines are caused by sediment, exactly the same way stripes are formed in glaciers. ¬†Very cool… whether at a glacier face or floating along in the ocean as an iceberg.

striated icebergs antartica 1 Supercells – I know a lot of people chase tornadoes and they can be dangerous and exciting and crazy to watch. ¬†I don’t think I am one of those people. ¬†Supercell storms are formed the same way as any other storm, but they have a vertical rotation which allows the storm to sustain itself much longer.supercells Underwater crop circles? ¬†These strange 7¬†foot¬†diameter ‘crop circles’ were first seen on the ocean floor off Japan and for a long time puzzled divers as to how they were created. ¬†Turns out they are made by tiny male puffer fish, no bigger than 5″ long, and the crazy little guys make them in the hope of attracting a mate.

underwater crop circles japan 1 underwater crop circles japan 2 Volcanic lightning – volcanic eruptions create an extraordinary amount of static and electrical charge, which on rare occasions can cause a violent lightning storm to spark in the volcanic plume. ¬†I think this would be amazing to see! ¬†Slight downside, it probably involves risking life and limb to get anywhere near it…volcanic lightningAnd this must be my favourite weird arse natural phenomena…
Frozen Methane Bubbles! ¬†Methane bubbles form, when dead organic matter falls to the bottom of a body of water and is decomposed by various bacteria. ¬†The methane gas becomes frozen in the water, creating beautiful patterns of frozen bubbles. ¬†It’s really quite stunning, but I don’t think anyone would let me anywhere near them… I’d be sitting there with a lighter waiting for them the bubbles to melt out! ¬† ūüėõ

frozen methane bubbles 1 frozen methane bubbles 2Next week: ¬†a look at The Most Abhorrent Phenomena in the Known World. ¬† ūüėõ


A Reminder of Why Australia Was Great.

An Impassioned Story on Facebook by Nhuy Lam*

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 9.48.30 pm“I never really use Facebook to make long, heartfelt posts because I try not to bother people. I will this time, though, so here goes nothing. I’m sorry if thereare typos and I’m sorry if I offend anyone… it’s like.. super late right now as I‚Äôm typing this.

After the release about the budget, I’m really freaking out about the state of the country. LOL. Isn’t everyone?

My parents and I are refugees. When I was a child, they told me that Australia is a wonderful country. It’s a country where the government is kind and will look after its people; that’s why it’s called the lucky country. My parents got divorced, something very normal in this day and age. Being a child at the time, it was a big thing for me, because suddenly dad was no longer there and my mum was in a deep depression. We were surviving on her disability pension. Hmm‚Ķ There were days where I my little brother and I would go hungry. Those were bad times, but the school came to the rescue and were wonderful enough to provide us with food (funding for that got cut in my senior year, I think.)

There was another time, when I was younger… in year 7, I guess. So, 11-12 or so? My little brother got very sick and we had to walk to the doctor‚Äôs. I clutched my mother’s green health care card in my hand like a lifeline because that flimsy plastic card was what allowed my little brother to see a doctor without the money we didn‚Äôt have. I remember I scrounged up 10 dollars that day so I could buy him cough medicine and have a bit left over for cough drops. I wonder what will happen to people in my shoes now that you need to pay money to see a doctor. Seven dollars means a lot to a family in need.

At 16, I applied for Youth Allowance and got it! I was over the moon! I could buy groceries! I could help my mother pay for bills and going hungry would be a distant memory. If I was very, very lucky then I would have enough money left over to spoil my little brother.

I cried in my senior year. I was worried I couldn’t go to university because I couldn’t afford the books. It was like a weight was lifted off my chest when I was told about HECS, about the extra bonus that would be used to pay for books. I couldn’t wait to go to university, to grow up and pay taxes (yes, yes… taxes) just so I could return the money to the country that has held my hand for so long. A country that protected me and allowed me the privilege of an education. I wanted to grow up and pay taxes so the money could be used to help other people in my shoes.

My friends from overseas tell me about how bad their country is, how heartless, and I would think to myself, “Australia isn’t perfect. But at least it cares for the people. That’s what matters.”

WELL. That went out the flippin’ window.

Australia’s coat of arms is a kangaroo and an emu. I thought this is because they are the two animals that are unable to take steps backwards. It was meant to show that Australia is a progressive country, and that it will always continue to move forward.

Tony Abbott has ruined that. He’s ruined so many core aspects of being human, he can’t even be considered Australian. I refuse to consider him as such because no human being would destroy the lives of so many in the name of a surplus to fight against a crisis that isn’t even real.

For as long as I can remember, I was proud of my country. I had faith in my country. I’ve lost that now and I blame him, I really do. It might be unreasonable of me to blame a single person or their political party, but… at night I worry about not being able to find a job straight after uni, of six months in limbo and having no money while I look for a job. I’m not a religious person, but I’m definitely praying to someone or anyone to put a stop to this.

Guys, it’s not Facebook Likes that the government hears. That button does nothing but make people feel as if they’re doing something. It’s action, standing up and protecting your rights that gets you heard. It’s screaming (peacefully) at the top of your lungs that this isn’t right that gets you heard.

I know I’m not alone in this. I’m one Australian of millions who will be affected by the cuts and changes proposed for the 2014 Budget, whose lives were made better by a government that helped provide for our education, that took care of us when we were ill and had nowhere else to turn to. They gave us a brighter future when all else seemed bleak, and now we don’t have even that.

If you feel the same way ‚Äď share your stories too, speak up. So we can reach out to others like us, to move others to action, to make a difference.

So let‚Äôs do it. Let‚Äôs get heard.”

*For some reason, Facebook wouldn’t let me share this status, but I really wanted to keep it to remind myself of the ideology Australia is founded on and the precepts we hold dear, and the government that has currently decided that these things, and these people, no longer matter.

Mixed Emotions on Mothers Day

Most days I don’t exactly feel like one of the most fortunate woman on the planet. ¬†I have chronic back pain from four hideous car accidents, I am totally dependent on prescription medication and I feel physically weak and pretty useless a lot of the time.

But worse than all this crap, is the fact that I am infertile.

You know, even fourteen years after that diagnosis, it is still hard for me to state that so absolutely. ¬†“I am infertile.” ¬†I can’t even say it out loud with ease.

But, thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of incredibly intelligent and talented, scientists and doctors, and the wonder that is modern medical science and IVF, and in spite of my five terrible miscarriages, and against all the odds – I have a beautiful son, who is the love of my life and in so many ways has become my raison d’√™tre. ¬† I know I am one of the lucky ones. ¬†There are so many women who suffer from infertility who do not manage to have a child, whether that be because assisted reproductive treatments did not work for them – or even worse – because their situations mean they don’t have access to, or can’t afford to pursue, the assistance that could help them fulfil their dreams of having children of their own.

Mother’s Day has become a day where I mostly prefer to celebrate my own mother, rather than my own motherhood… because my own state of motherhood, while miraculous, is also tinged with so much sadness. ¬†A sadness that quietly grieves the babies that I lost – particularly the first miscarriage when I was only 20, which I was told could have been my son;¬†and the third miscarriage after years of IVF, which pathology relayed¬†would have been my daughter.¬† It is also a sadness that laments the babies I never managed to nurture – the over 60 embryos that have been transferred back to my traitorous body, but which never successfully implanted and never grew into babies – over six years,¬†of¬†so many failed IVF cycles, as I desperately tried to have a second child… a sibling for my son and another joy for our lives. ¬†So much loss. ¬†So much heartache. ¬†So much sadness.

Mother’s Day also makes me sad when I think about other friends who I know share my pain. ¬†Women who are infertile, too. ¬†Women who have miscarried, too. ¬†Women who have deep biological desires, but who are thwarted by the fates, too. ¬†Women who want¬†to have children, whether their first child or second child¬†or more, but for whatever reason they can’t achieve the families they desire. ¬†It is a uniquely soul crushing sadness that I would not wish on anyone… Mother’s Day¬†probably produces mixed emotions for all these women too. ¬†I love you all and am thinking of you today.

It is on Mother’s Day that I am reminded of the ten little embryos I have cryogenically stored (that and the day the bill for their yearly storage fee arrives), knowing that I will never be able to grow them into the beautiful, much wanted children we desire. ¬†These embryos have become emblems of misguided hope¬†– for they represent my impossible view of the future. ¬†It is a hope I can not bring myself to abandon.¬†¬†For without it, there is nothing but the prospect of endless sadness and regret. ¬†I feel all this, but at the same time, I know it to largely be an illusion –¬†these ten embryos represent more pain than hope – because they come with the What Ifs. ‘What if I donated them to some one who needs them? ¬†Could I handle my genetic child being raised by strangers?’… ‘What if I somehow end up off all the medication and used the embryos myself?’… ‘What if I’ve left the whole thing, too late and I am too old?” … ‘What if we could find a suitable surrogate?’… “What if I went off to Thailand and hired a surrogate?” ¬†In my head,¬†the scenarios tumble around and around, over and over, year after year. ¬†It never, ever seems to go away, and it follows me around every single day.

I have a twelve year old beautiful son – I AM one of the lucky ones – and he brings us so much joy… and yet I can not stop thinking what life might have been like, had I¬†been able to have more children, and have the family, and the life, that I so desperately wanted to create. ¬†Mother’s Day is both a day to be celebrated in our house as well as a day which prompts a lot of quiet reflection and mixed emotions…

I truly wish, that after all these years, I could be just content with my lot.  And I truly wish my mind could. just. be. still.


Complete List of Facebook Emoticons

After years of trying not to use MSN emoticons on Facebook, I finally find a useful list of Facebook emoticons to relearn. ¬†Some of them are case sensitive and some have more than one shortcut to get the emoticon to appear…¬†So here is a complete list of Facebook chat emoticons and their keyboard shortcuts.

Shark (^^^) Shark with sharp teeth out.
Penguin <(“) Penguin looking to the left.
Robot :|] Robot face.
Happy : ) A happy smiley face.
Sad : ( A sad and frowning smiley.
Tongue : P Sticking tongue out.
Grin : D A big grin and laughing.
Shocked : O Shocked and surprised.
Winking ; ) Winking.
Nerd B) Nerdy smiley with glasses.
Cool B| Cool smiley wearing…
Upset >:( Upset and angry.
Unsure :/ Unsure or doubtful emoticon.
Crying :'( Crying emoticon with tears.
Devil 3:) Laughing devil emoticon.
Angel O:) A blushing angel with a halo.
Kiss :* Girl sending a kiss and a wink
Heart <3 A red heart emoticon.
Keke ^_^ Kekeke happy emoticon.
Bored -_- Annoyed, sighing or bored.
Confused o.O Confused or WTF emoticon.
Angry >:O Upset, angry or shouting…
Pacman :v A Pacman emoticon.
Cat :3 Cat faced smiley.