Hi Everyone

So a week and a half after Karen leaves, cousin Dylan (or Big D, as I refer to him behind his back) flew into town. Unfortunately, I forgot to tell him how restrictive Australia is about what you can bring into the country.  He had bought some wooden trinkets in Malaysia and didn’t declare them at the airport, leading to a search and a chewing out by the customs officer. Whoops. So a warning to anyone coming to Australia; they pretty much have everything that you can find in North America, so there’s no need to bring certain items over. More or Less.

He was only here for four days so we tried to jam everything in. Unfortunately, I have class right now so Big D had to do the Great Ocean Road and Penguin Parade on his own on a couple of day trips. And I think I might have failed to tell him this but I only picked Gray Line Tours because I had a coupon.

Our first stop was the Queen Victoria Market, of course (one of my favourite places in the world). Lots of souvenirs but we had to return there on Friday to pick them up. Turned out to be a good thing because the churro truck is only there on the weekends. After I went to class and he went to the aquarium for the obligatory nemo-finding trip, we met up at the casino. Don’t worry mom, I only spent $4 on penny slots but spent more money in the arcade (that’s alright, Dylan paid). I am ashamed to say I pretty much lost to Dylan on every game we played- skee ball, shooting games, racing games, and a basketball shoot-off.

On Friday, we went to the Victorian State Parliament for one of the free tours. I’ve seen the outside of Parliament a few times (including watching a “rally”…) but this is the first time I’ve been inside. Australian Government is very similar to Canadian Government, which is logical since both are Commonwealth countries. Both are bicameral (two houses), a lower house of commons where members are elected and an upper house of lords where the members are appointed. However, I don’t think the upper house here is as much of a patronage position as it is back home (Note: I’m comparing Canadian federal government with Australian state government because I really don’t know as much about provincial government as I should). In the house of commons, I got a picture of me sitting in the Speaker’s chair (there’s also one of me sitting in the Premier’s chair but he seems kind of useless…).  The upper house is much more ornate than the lower house because it was meant for people with money; decorations include angels and lions and eagles. The best thing about Parliament? The library. Sure it’s full of laws that nobody really cares about but it looks the way a library should. Unfortunately, it’s not open to the public.

Dylan had to fly out that night so it was a short but sweet trip. And I get my apartment back. All to myself. No more stepping over people in the morning.

On another personal note, I became vice-president of the University of Melbourne Secular Society last week. It’s amazing how people will vote for you if you supply them with cupcakes.

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