An Environmentally Appropriate Malapropism

[Credit: iStockphoto/Ralph Loesche]

In the fourth grade my best friend at the time, Robert, and I promised each other that someday we would go to Australia together. We were fascinated with the “land down under” and we often sang Rolf Harris’ song “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” without knowing what any of it meant. How does one tie down a kangaroo anyway — and why?

Today while browsing Science Daily I came across what looked like it might be the real and more logical line: Fry me Kangaroo Brown, Sport. I thought, wow, that makes sense. For years I had sung tie/down when it should have been fry/brown! After all, I went to Australia a few years ago (without Robert) and I did eat a roo burger while there. Chuckling at having butchered the song lyrics for so many years I looked it up to find — no, I was right in the first place.

“Fry me kangaroo brown” is a great fake malapropism that highlights a serious suggestion. Namely, that cattle farming is very harmful to the environment, everywhere, and switching from beef to roo is actually a sound environmental choice for Australia. It would mean a much more sustainable and native source of meat than cattle or sheep.

There are some draw backs though. Kangaroos are much cuter than cows, esp. the smaller roos like the pademelons I saw every night while there. The kanagroo is a national, iconic symbol for Australia. And, finally, I did not much think the roo burger I had was very good. Guess I could get used to it though. Just, ‘fry me kangaroo brown, sport.’

16 Year-old Sailor on His Way Around the World

Photo by John Shillabeer, Taken on October 19th, 2006. (Wikimedia)

When I was in 8th or 9th grade I read about Robin Lee Graham, a teenager who sailed around the world alone on his sail boat Dove. It was an inspirational story. Since I was a mountain boy who had never been on a sail boat, I as not inspired to sail away from home, but the strength of character to face danger and loneliness for the sake of a dream was something I could and did learn from.

Now another young man of 16 has launched himself onto the oceans in an endeavor to circumnavigate the globe and follow in Robin Graham’s wake. Zac Sunderland hopes to complete the trip before turning 18, a feat that would make him the youngest person to sail around the world. I’ve linked to his blog and intend to follow the tale of his adventure. Even at 48 I can still be inspired by courage and determination. Best of luck and weather to Zac!

Surf´s Up in Munich

Rapids surfing/Wellenreiten

Originally uploaded by Michlt

Who would have thought you could surf in downtown Munich? A standing wave in the fast flowing Eisbach has become an amusement ride for city residents. Technically this is against the law but the law is apparently not enforced. The Eisbach is a man-made river that runs through Munich’s Englischer Garten.

German Vacation

Munich Rathaus

Originally uploaded by rmayda

Tomorrow Michael and I head to Munich where we have an apartment for a week. It has been about 15 years since I was in Germany and I’m exceptionally happy to be going back. Following the week in Munich we’ll train around in the Austrian Alps. At this time we don’t have any set destinations.

This is a Featured Flickr pic of the Munich Rathaus by rmayda. I appreciate him allowing blogging on this picture. I’ll post my own to Flickr when I get back.

Discovery by Hurricane

Wikipedia Image-Roatan Beach (Creative Commons Lic.)Hurricane Felix is right now a category 4 storm (expected to become a 5). Weather Underground is currently placing Felix due north of Panama and heading west toward Honduras and Nicaragua. An AP article by reporter MARGARET WEVER quoted a resident from an island I had never heard of before — Roatan — so I hopped onto Google Earth to check it out and in the process discovered the Bay Islands of Honduras (Roatan, Guanaja & Utila).

It is not surprising that I am ignorant of most tourist hot spots in the Caribbean, but when Wikipedia mentions in its Roatan article that the island lies near the second largest reef in the world (Australia’s Great Barrier Reef being the largest), then I have to admit to being a little chagrined. I knew that the reefs off the coast of Central America were significant, but I guess I did not grasp quite how significant they were. Subsequently, I’ve learned that they make up 9% of all the world’s reefs.

The reefs are not much in danger from the hurricane. They have co-existed for thousands of years. Tourism and development in the countries on the Western Caribbean Sea constitute a much more serious threat to them, in part because of general ignorance of their global importance. The internet with sites like Google Earth and Wikipedia serve best when they facilitate linkages like the one I made from a simple quote in a single article to the discovery of a group of islands and the global significants of an entire ecological region.


I woke up this morning wondering what I should take with me on my 2.5 week vacation to Germany and Austria. It is nice to have something to look forward to other than the daily grind of work. The last time I anticipated something so much was over a year and a half ago when Michael, Stephen, and I went to the Asa Wright Center in Trinidad. The Germany/Austria trip may even have me more worked up because I have great memories from Germany but haven’t been there in more than 15 years. Over the last few months I’ve been reading magazines and books in German to refresh my language skills. Of course there is no substitute for being actually being there. Even the Philadelphia German MeetUp group is not sufficient to offer the thrill of immersion in the culture.

So. the question is ‘what to take with?’ I have a German birding guide now so I will probably take my binoculars. Although I’ve been to Europe several times I’ve never really birded in Germany or Austria. After having great birding experiences in Australia and Trinidad I can’t pass up this opportunity to officially add European birds to my life list.

Michael and I have an apartment in Munich for a week. Coincidentally, we will be within walking distance of Oktoberfest. After Munich we plan to travel in Austria, probably spending a couple of days in Innsbruck. Maybe we will see Vienna – definitely Salzburg. I’d like to see Gratz again — not just because it is the birthplace of the Govenor of California, but because I was there in the early 80’s and thought it was a very interesting place.

The great thing is that I will rediscover these places while Michael experiences them for the first time. There is enormous potential for this to be an awesome vacation! Beyond a doubt, I am overdue for a vacation of any type right now.

Bears on Main St.

Bears on Main St.

Originally uploaded by Michlt
It was earlier this year that I visited family in Western North Carolina. One day I ambled around the town where I grew up and snapped these pictures of black bear statues decorating Main St. A fair number of towns have a series of themed sculptures on display either temporarily or permanently. Chicago once had Cows on Parade (I saw a couple of these last year but they had been moved indoors), Wilmington, DE has dinosaurs (I’m not sure why), and Hendersonville has black bears — at least some of them started out as ‘black’ bears.