Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Home at last........
Thanks to all for the support and encouragement. I am a very blessed person to have such friends and family.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
A minor setback.....
I'm in Wednesday 2:50 PM........still plenty of time to ramp up my appetite for Turkey!
A couple final flights........
It was a stellar last day in the Manila office today. Really felt good to see people actually sorry to see me go. There is such a good group of people in the Pacific region and I am blessed to have shared time with them over the past 6 months.
It looks to be shaping up as a stellar return.....Wednesday with Delane, Thursday off to Birmingham to stuff my face, Friday watching my nephew play football, then the Auburn/Alabama game Saturday. Not a bad way to start my return!
I am sure I will have a few other items to add to the blog....I've got tons of pictures and such that I never got around to posting.....but this may be my last during my assignment. For all those that actually read this site, checked on my wife, and otherwise lended support to us; Please know I very much appreciate it.
I may be a bit jaded by the weather and time there. I arrived at 7:45 AM and we were indoors for sessions until 5 PM when we FINALLY had an outdoor team event. It lasted about an hour and then the sun went down. Next day we were up at 8 and went until 12:30. I had an entire 30 minutes to roam before we had to head to the airport. And it was raining almost the entire time. A bit rushed to say the least!
Monday, November 19, 2007
Headed home….via Boracay!
Well, it's been a wild last 3 days! Left for the airport Saturday around 11:30. It was amazing how I kept finding stuff that I couldn't fit in my luggage! I ended up heading over to the office around 10:30 to drop off another box to be mailed. Rob and I took our 8 hour flight to Manila, got to the Hotel around 7:00, dinner at a nice Japanese place and then to bed around 11:30. So here is Sunday morning; Up at 3:30 AM. Taxi at 4:15 to the airport. 5:45 Flight to Caticlan. Arrived at 6:45. 5 minute taxi to the ferry dock. 15 minute ferry to Boracay. 15 minute taxi to the resort. I was having breakfast at the resort at 7:45. What a start to the day!
More on Boracay a bit later……I'm back in Manila and it's time for a meeting!
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
We are having a bye to Jim late lunch outing tomorrow. Just a few work folks getting together. Then with the Christmas party Friday I should be good and hung over!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I laced up and ran the 12K to the zoo and met up with Rob (from work) and his family. Good food, stunning views, and some great animals! We were walking back by the area where Coca-Cola had the tables and food and such and what did I see; Santa Claus! Now this only struck me as funny because it's summer time and it was 80 degrees out! I bet it is strange to wake up Christmas morning and go to the beach instead of checking to see if you got any snow.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
It really hit me yesterday that I was spending my LAST Saturday in Australia. I am so excited to be coming home, but at the same time it's going to be a bit sad to leave this place. I've been here long enough that I've gotten to enjoy the place! While not having my wife here has lessened the enjoyment greatly, it has been a blast! Maybe a bit more reflection later…….
Saturday was busy and fun! I left at 10 to go do some final OZ gift shopping before I leave. If you get a gift from me for Christmas, don't be surprised if it came from Australia! J I then walked over to the Royal Gardens and read my book and enjoyed the stunning views and people watching. I hadn't gotten a picture of the world famous "Café-de-Wheels" (it's a meat pie stand in Wollamroo) so I strolled over for a few shots. Grabbed a bit to eat in Chinatown and ended up over id Darling Harbour a few hours later listening to some bands play. Got home around 5 and turned around an hour later and went to the Rose (pub) to meet some friends to watch the Sydney FC football game. I happen to have 2 tickets to the Killers concept but figured I'd just watch the football instead. Turns out my work mate Dave's misses is a big Killers fan, so she and I left with a few minutes left in the game and took a taxi to the concert. We walked in and only hung out 10 minutes before the Killers took the stage. They ROCKED for 2 hours. Excellent show! One of the best I've seen in a while live. Got home around midnight…….tired but what a last Saturday!
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Fly Fishing New Zealand
For those of you that know me, I've had the opportunity to fly fish some great places over the past 10 or so years. I've been a little thin on quality time on the water over the past year or so, but I still very much enjoy the time I spend on the water. I've caught plenty of fish, but I was really looking forward to going for some trophy sized trout in New Zealand. When I booked my guide, Craig from www.dreamtrout.com, I told him that I didn't want to go fish with 20 others and catch small trout. I told him my preference would be a small to medium stream sight-fishing to trophy sized fish. It's a risky request-there are plenty of places here to go catch fish, but experiencing a special place and fish is what I was after.
I woke up to a sky full of darkness………there wasn't a patch of sun anywhere! No worries, it's fishing time! I'd talked my guide into picking me up at 7:30 instead of his normal 8…..I was keen to fish. Turns out our stream was about 1 hour away including a quick stop for a fishing license. We got to the stream and it was exactly as I had imaged. New Zealand is a big place with not many people. And the Taupo region is LOADED with perfect trout waters. I seriously think there hadn't been anyone fishing the stream we fished in weeks. My guide said he'd only done 6 days on the water over the past 4 years.
It immediately became apparent this was going to be a challenging day. The river was maybe 15 feet wide at the most and much bank growth. We bushwacked through the brush and fell into the stream. Stalked up to the first hole and there sits a beautiful brown. We stalked the best possible location for a cast and my rusty technique was about to be put to the test. First cast…..near perfect….but not close enough. I swear, it was barely a foot short of perfect and the lunker took off. Ah, it was gonna be an interesting day! Craig had warned me that if we saw 15 fish all day it would be a good day. They are big fish and tend to chase of the smaller ones. We'll, I'd missed one of the 15. Moving one………
So it went….finding, stalking, casting. Took about 3 hours before I hooked up with a beautiful 'bow that weighed 5 pounds on Craig's scale. That one fish was all that I came for! The day proceeded about the same. Tough terrain, very selective fish, tons of missed opportunities, and a few more nice fish. Ended the day with 3 in the net and a couple more that have sore gums. What a day!
I drove down from Auckland to a town called Taupo on Wednesday afternoon. This first really interesting thing I noticed is how little there is around once you get outside of the big city. About 30 minutes outside of Auckland, it began looking seriously rural…..some farms, but not much else. Not a surprise, I guess, for a county with only 4.5 M people total. It was a stunning 290 kilometer trip down south, with a huge mountain range flanking the left side of the road all the way down. Got to Taupo in a leisurely 3.5 hours and checked into the hotel around 7:30. The lodge is right on Lake Taupo and I noticed the sun starting to set right as I was hauling my bags up the stairs. I grabbed my camera and went outside to snap a beautiful picture of the sun going down over the lake. Nice!
Walked down to town 10 minutes down the road and swung in the first pub I happened upon. I very much enjoyed a pint and a chicken burger and hustled back to the lodge. My fishing guide was picking me up at 7:30 and I wanted to be fresh and have time for a solid breakfast. I planned on it being a long day fishing!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Time to play.......
I'm finishing up in the office in Auckland today (Wednesday) and headed south to Taupo New Zealand for a day of trout fishing and then another day or two of whatever strikes my fancy. Check out www.dreamtrout.com for my guide and the area I'll be fishing. I hope to have so (true) fish tales to tell in a day or two :) Otherwise, I assure you I will make some up! :) Back in Sydney Saturday or Sunday.
Good luck to Dave in the New York Marathon! You'll tear it up! Run strong........
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Sunday in Auckland-Devonport
I headed out early Sunday to get a run in and be a spectator during the Auckland Marathon at the same time. I timed leaving the hotel to catch the 10K runners at the 3K mark and ran along the sidewalk with them for a mile or so. When they turned around, I headed out a bit farther and caught up with the marathon route. Ended up running the last 4-5K my run with the leaders…….I ran on the sidewalk and back a touch to not interfere, but it was cool to be with them.
Roy and I met up around 9 and took the ferry across the harbor to Devonport. It's a more "neighborhood" village but still very close to the City. Some amazing old houses and tree-lined streets. We walked up North Head, which is a point overlooking the harbour in several directions. It used to be an old war fort and still has tunnels under the ground and gun turrets. Strolled another couple kilometers to Mt. Victoria which is a really high "cone" extinct volcano. Superb views of the city.
Finished up with a nice long visit to the spa at the hotel….sauna, steam room, weights, jacuzzi, and a quick dip in the pool…..and then a good ole pub dinner. Not a bad weekend in Auckland! I also booked a trip down to Taupo for later in the week to go fishing and hiking!!! More on that later.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Time in Auckland
Roy and I arrived in New Zealand on the last flight from Australia Tuesday night. Got up early the next morning and walked out to dreary weather….cool and rainy. It was just like my last trip and I was again not impressed! Ah, but after 4 days in Auckland I'm beginning to warm up to the place. The weather has been on and off nice and I've come to determine it's just the way it is. The winds blow a good bit and the weather changes often.
I have toured a decent bit via my daily runs and Dinner restaurant searches, and it really is a cool place. There is water EVERYWHERE! Harbours, bays, inlets, rivers……and there then to be trails next to all of them. Ok, maybe that is why I am digging the place……I went for a run today and put in 9 miles entirely on a harbor path.
There wasn't much in the way of fun and excitement the first 3 days in town, as we were working pretty hard on the local phone system replacement effort. But Saturday gave us an opportunity to tour a bit. After a run, Roy and I grabbed a light breakfast at a little café and then grabbed a ferry to Waiheke Island (pronounced like the place in Hawaii). It a pretty big island but we were both surprised that there aren't a ton of people there. The scenery is much more what I expected of New Zealand….lush, rugged, and stunning views. We hike a couple hours around a few bays and then stopped in the town of Oentas for lunch. Walked back to the pier and caught the 3PM ferry back to town. I'll post some pictures in a bit. A super day and my head is clear of any lingering memories of a long work week!
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Beach, Sports, and Music all in one day!
One of the projects I've been working on for almost the entire time I have been in Australia, a phone and voicemail replacement for the Australia and New Zealand Offices, goes live Monday! It has been an extremely long week, but we wrapped up things Friday night around 8:30PM and so far things seem smooth. I'm off to Auckland on Tuesday to do finish up the same effort in their offices.
After a few celebratory pints Friday night, I was home and sleeping like a baby after a few nights of less that optimal sleep. Saturday was to be stellar weather, so I got up nice and early to head out for a run. After a bit of breakfast, I ended up heading to Manly Beach with a work colleague from out of town. He wanted to see a bit and it seemed like a fun thing to do on a nice day! Walked around the North Head of Sydney Harbour from Manly and soaked up the sun and breeze.
I headed back around 4 and then zipped down to The Rose (pub) for some brews before the Sydney FC football game. 4 of us hopped in a cab and zipped of to see a head-breaking 1-0 loss by Sydney. They had many opportunities to score goals and just couldn't take advantage. Normally, the gang goes out after the game (started at 7 and the games are almost exactly 100 minutes….45 minute halves, 10 minute halftime, and no time breaks during the game) but everyone was calling it a night. I looked at my watch and realized that I could probably still make the Linkin Park concert. I had free tickets from work. So I hussled about 5K down to the entertainment center and walked in literally as they were taking the stage! Stayed for about an hour and a half and then zipped home. A great show….a little hard for me, but I was pretty impressed at the energy and the crowd was totally into it.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Pylon Bridge Climb
Here is a cool shot of the area called Circular Quay (note the ferry terminals) with downtown Sydney (or the CBD as it is referred to...Central Business District) in the background.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Apparently, the westerly winds have blown the moths that normally migrate more over the ocean right over Sydney. Happens every year, but this is the worst on record. They were, seriously, EVERYWHERE earlier this week. I work up one morning and the glass doors to my porch were almost covered with moths! They creep into building and offices as well. They somehow made it to floor 6 in the office as well. I actually saw a few riding the elevator....think they pushed the button themselves? :)
Article on the moths: http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,22552036-5006009,00.html
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
No particular topics today, just some unconnected ramblings.
It was interesting that even over here there was lots of discussion on the Chicago Marathon and all the issues. I emailed with my friends Nils and Bob and got a bit of their take. They both did very well despite the heat. And based on all I have read, it was a lose-lose proposition for the event people. Sure, they could have done more with drinks and such, but with that many people, many of which are first-timers, in that heat, it was gonna be ugly. If they'd have let the race continue the finger pointing would have been "why didn't they stop the race" etc.
I've got around 6 or so weeks left here. And they will be busy! I'm off to New Zealand for at least a week of it. And there is a good chance of a leadership trip in a cool location in the Philippines. Add to that two new phone system implementation projects going live and the time will fly by!
I have about exhausted by list of Sydney and suburbs "must do's". I haven't made it to Hunter Valley (the wine region) but I think it more of a "go with your love" type place so I'll pass without my lady! Think I might make it back up to the Blue Mountains this weekend. Really liked it up there.
On a similar note; I went to Ka Ring Gai Park last week. Started in the town of Cowan and hiked to Brooklyn. We'll, I get back and the first thing I hear Sunday is about the bush fires that have started. Then they mention that they think it was arson and started in the Cowan area. I was like "NOT ME!"!!! Several people at work knew I was headed up there and gave me a hassle Monday.
All for now!
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Just a regular ole' week
It was a killer week at work! Even given a 4 day week, it seemed aweful long! An exciting Sydney friday night ended up being a marathon work session that started Friday at 6AM and ended me getting home Saturday morning at 2AM! Crazy! I was sacked out till about 9AM when my work mate Dave called and said we were headed to the beach. We went down to Maroubra beach.....very nice but much more "local" than Bondi or Manly. Went for a COLD swin then just relaxed for a couple hours till a "southerly" blew in and it got cool and overcast and windy. We packed up and headed to The Rose Pub for a brew and a pizza. I hopped the train back to the city for a quick nap before a 7PM kickoff for the Sydney FC Soccer game.
The soccer had a good crowd but Sydney fell 1-0 to the Melbourne Victory. The rest of the soccer crew was headed to the pub to watch the Wallabies play England in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals. Game didn't started till 11PM so I took a pass and came back to the apartment for some much needed sleep.
Not much exciting to share today, just living and working......
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Making the most of a long week........
After getting cleaned up and a bit of dinner, I headed down to a small concert venue at the Fox Studios complex with the HR Director from Coca-Cola and her daughter and cousin. We were there to see Kelly Clarkson (free tickets from work). Literally, the place was PACKED, but it only held maybe 1000 people. We had the 8 year old with us, so the security guy drags us around behind the stage and out the other side to a PRIME area with good views for the shorter little girl. Kelly was in Sydney for Australia Idol, apparently, and decided to do this private show....I'm not sure how you got tickets....they were not available for sale.
Anyhow, I stood maybe 10 feet from the stage while she played for about 75 minutes. Good music and performance, and the small venue made the crowds fun! I took a ton of video and pictures....will post a bit later.
October Long Weekend
I headed out early Saturday morning and caught the train to Cowan....a town about 40K north of Sydney. I was planning a 13K hike on part of the "Great North Walk" in Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park and was going to end in the town of Brooklyn. Got up there about 9:45 and hit the trail. Great hike......took about 4 hours (including a nice long stop for lunch and a little book reading). I got to the town of Brooklyn a bit before the start of the Aussie Rules rugby championship game. Hit a local pub in this very small town and watched the first half of the game. It was a blow-out, so I hustled across the road to catch the 4 PM train back to the city. I was supposed to hook up with my mate Dave at the Rose pub. Met Dave and his misses there and we had a couple brews before heading to Sydney Football stadium to watch the Sydney FC football (soccer) game.
Excellent game! They got their first home win 1-nil. 4 or 5 of us went over to a local right by the stadium and had a few more brews. Stumbled back home around 12:30 and slept like a baby!
Good start to the long weekend!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The Footy Show is basically a mix between ESPN Sports Center, Entertainment Tonight, and Idol all rolled in to one! I watch it most weeks on the TV and was pumped to go. And since the National Rugby League finals are this weekend, this was the "Grand Finale" show for them. A live taping....2.5 hours. Just to make it a bit better, Daughtry (as in Chris, the Idol winner) was playing during the live taping!
Show didn't start till 9:30, but you had to be there at 9 to get settled in for the taping. Really cool seeing a live broadcast, and good entertainment too! They had one little skit where two of the guys that have been competing against each other in events on the show all season had their grand final event. They had been doing little competitions all season and were tied 8-8. They started this little course through the audience, drinking hot-peppered milk, putting on costumes, riding Segaway scooters through the aisles, etc. They got to one little station that I couldn't see very well and one of the guys never came back out. Kept wondering what happened to him. Next commercial break they get him back up on stage. Turns out the station had them eating bananas with Wasabi....and he got Wasabi in his eye! OUCH!
Fun night.....good hearing Daughtry and another big Aussie singer Jimmy Barnes. Got home way late for a work night....1 AM. All good fun.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
It doesn't appear there is live race tracking, but I'm not sure. It is a "chip" event, so maybe they will be posting splits (or at least timely results after the race). The marathon starts Sunday at 7:15 AM with is Saturday at 5:15 PM in Atlanta. Here is the website: http://www.runthebridge.com.au.
It should be an interesting run. It starts about a mile from my apartment on the north side of the harbor bridge and finishes at the Opera House. The post-race festivities are in Delane's favorite spot in Sydney....the Royal Gardens!
I'll be sure to post some post-race info. Wish me luck!
Monday, September 10, 2007
Nice to be home..........
After a nice Labor day cookout on Monday, we had dinner with Sandra and Doug on Wednesday at my favorite pizza place....Bellas! I ran the river with Ron, Jimmy, Tommy, and Taylor on Thursday......oh how I've missed that run! We then enjoyed some social time at Mellow Mushroom with some brews and grub.
Friday was a nice quiet time with Delane and Pasta night! Saturday it was time to catch up with some SEC football. We watched some of the Georgia game with Ron and then headed to Darryl and Kristi's to watch Auburn play. It was tough to see my team loose to a lesser team, but it's football no less!
We went to my friend Joe and Shannons sons Owen's first birthday party Sunday. It was really great to see them and a ton of other friends.
Delane is taking Monday and Tuesday off....really looking forward to spending some nice time with her.
All for now...........next post - back to Sydney on Saturday!
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
A Visit Home!
I met up with Delane on Monday morning. She was up at the lake in NC and my mom dropped me in Spartanburg to meet her. We met a a McDonalds, enjoyed a drink with my mom, then Delane and I walked outside for the drive back to Atlanta to find our car with a flat tire! Classic! So we spent a few extra hours in Spartanburg before driving down Atlanta way.
It was so good to get to spend Labor day over at my friend Ron's house......catching up with friends, a barbecue, good times..........
Can't say how nice it is to be home and spending time with Delane and friends. I hope I have the opportunity to catch up with everyone while I'm here. I head back on the 15th.........
Saturday, August 25, 2007
I was up and off early Saturday to take the train to the Blue Mountains for a visit. It's about 130 kilometers from Sydney and takes about 2 hours by train. Actually, the Blue Mountains are not mountains, apparently, but rather a large set of cliffs surrounding a plateau. People talk highly of the area so I figured it warranted a look-see.
The Blue Mtns spread for many miles and I chose the town of Katoomba to start my visit. I arrived at the train stop and huffed it a mile or so to Echo Point and one of the local visitor's centers. I had a quick chat with one of the friendly staff there and planned out a 10-12K "bushwalk" (hike). Started out up on the cliffs and walked along the ridge overlooking the plateau for several kilometers. It was a bit foggy and overcast, so many of the views were limited to start. Next it was time to drop down the "Federal Stairs" into the valley. The drop down was 30 minutes of rock-carved steps, old wooden stairs, rocky trails, etc. I was already dreading the trip back up the cliffs! The trip through the plateau was stunning, as the weather cleared and the views were amazing. I walked right under the famed "Three Sisters" and continued through the rugged paths to a famous mountain landslide from several decades ago. I also passed what the Guinness Book calls the world's steepest railway…..a train that drops 900 feet over about 2000 feet. It was used for dragging coal out of the valley many years back but now transports tourists too lazy to take the stairs! I continued walking around the valley and was planning on trying to make it over to a place called the Ancient Castle. About half way to the castle, I realized I'd been out hiking for almost 5 hours and that I wouldn't make it to the site and back before dark. So, I made the smart decision and turned around to huff it back to civilization. The final challenge was to take the Furber Stairs out of the valley…..900 steps very straight up! I got to the top and realized I'd pretty much reached the end of my physical limits…I was wiped out from 6.5 hours of tough terrain.
I hopped on the train back to the city and fell asleep not 5 minutes into the trip. I was exhausted but had an incredible day. Check out a few of the pictures to the right.
Also, check the link to the right for some Blue Mountain and Football Photos.
Australian Football (Soccer)
Friday it was time to see a "football" game in Sydney! They have a new league that started up 4 years ago, A-League Football, and last night was the first game of the season. I hooked up with my mate Dave from work and some other fellas at Forresters Hotel for a few rounds pre-game. It started pouring rain while we were getting our drink on and it forced us to delay departure a bit and have another round awaiting some rain relief! J We hussled up to the SFG (Sydney Football Grounds) and settled into the "Cove". This is the area of the stadium reserved for season ticket holders…aka the serious fans. Several more rounds were consumed while we watched an excellent first match. Sydney ended up losing 1 to nil but it was still a super time.
If any of you remember, Delane and I were a tad surprised that the Rugby fans were not more out of hand. Well, I think I found the wilder fans! The throwing of beer after an exciting play is an acceptable practice (although it still pains me to see beer going to waste like that!). People were literally saving small amounts of beer in the bottom of their plastic cups so they'd have something to throw!
I went to the Blue Mountains today….an excellent trip. Will post some details and pics soon.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Just a general update…..
So no fancy title this time around, just a general update on things. First, I have determined that I am getting old, and it's NOT because I just had a Birthday, but rather my inability to drink beer. I went out this past Friday with a few folks from work to "The Argyle". Delane knows the place, but it reminds me of a New York or LA Bar. Lines out the front and a handful of bouncers making sure you look the part to get in. A few hours and like 5 potent beers later and I was sloshed. Didn't really know how sloshed until I got woken up at 1:00 AM by a work related call (a big project was going in over the weekend). I answered the phone and at about the same time felt the THROBING pain from my hangover. I seriously felt bad the entire day Saturday. How sad is that?
Sunday was a terribly rainy day, but I was determined to get in a nice long training run in preparation for the marathon. I set out in a steady downpour and it going rained harder. 2.5 hours later I got back….soaked, chafed everywhere, and happy as a clam. I felt really good almost the entire run. Nice when that happens. I also ran a decent bit of the marathon course to learn what I needed to expect during the race.
Looks like I'm off to New Zealand for a few days on Sunday. We've got a project over there that needs a little TLC and my co-worker (Dave) and I are going to go visit for a few days. Don't think I'll try to tack on much personal time this trip, but really plan to try to get back over for a few days later in October when the trout season opens back up.
All for now. Miss you all.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
So D and my family arranged, as usual, to provide WAY too many gifts! Just finished opening;
- Picture Frame and about 10 photos from Delane's and my vacation
- A cool jacket
- Australia T-Shirt from Queensland
- Yoga Mat (now I have no more excuses!)
- Alarm Clock (been setting my Blackberry Alarm every day until now)
- A new backpack
- Espresso book (I'm gonna buy an espresso maker when I get home!)
- A couple "VB" glasses. VB is Victoria Bitter, one of the popular local beers.
Check out all the stuff. Too much! The café across the street that I frequent for Coffee and Carrot Cake even gave me a massive slice on the house!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
You never can tell what you are getting into!
Who is this Penguin? And is he playing pool? You never can tell what you'll find yourself doing on a random Wednesday night! Coca Cola South Pacific IT and Office Services groups were due up in the monthly rotation to provide dinner and entertainment for the Ronald McDonald house last night! There are about 50-60 people that rotate through the house while a family member is being treated for illness at the attached hospital. So, about 9 of us headed over Wednesday afternoon to create a home made dinner feast and provide a bit of entertainment and time away from the constient pressure these families must feel.
We had TONS of food….I was in charge of Mashed Potatoes. Never thought I'd peel, cook, and mash so many potatoes in my life! They bought 20 kilo of potatoes, or 44 pounds! It took like an hour and a half just to peel them all! But the mash was excellent, if I must say. It's a specialty of mine!
I went Tuesday and rented the costume below. I was really cool seeing all the excitement in the room as I waddled along playing with the kids. A really fun group time. Several of us even managed enough energy to go for a pint or two after we finished up. It wasn't all work....I even found a few minutes to play some pool! :)
Sunday, August 12, 2007
City to Surf
I was fortunate enough to get a number in the lead group, but seeding isn't as complex as it is for Peachtree. There are only three groups total, so I was in a group with about 10K other people! Starting temp was warm at about 70 degrees. It was about 1 minute before I hit the start line after the gun and the first 2-3K were extremely crowded. Lots of weaving and I didn't really hit stride till about the 3rd K. I'd been told it was a challenging course. It was fairly difficult. There were some hills early in the race, but the tough part was 6-8. It was a challenging 2K hill up to the top of Double Bay with no breaks. It rolled up and down until about 11K and then you literally fell off the mountain......3K down a very steep hill to the finish. Official time was 55:39 but my watch clocked my race as 54:48 with the start delay. No chips in this one.
Coke put on an excellent post-race party at Hotel Bondi! Tons of food and drink. I still very much miss Peachtree, but it was an exceptional day of fun. The line for the buses was HUGE so I ended up walking back about 11K to my apartment. I think I'll treat myself to a pint after the day! :)
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Back to my temporary home
I got back to Sydney Saturday morning. I left Manila at 6:30PM Friday, flew to Singapore, then an overnight flight to Australia. I could have waited a day and take a direct flight, but my butt was ready to get back to be well rested for the City to Surf race on Sunday! It was amazing....I popped out of the airport about 10:15 and it was 75 degrees and not a cloud in the sky! A very nice welcome back to my temporary home.
Talked over my return with the boss and others. Apparently I can only stay physically in Australia for 180 days or there are tax issues. So, subtracting out time in Korea and Manila, my current drop dead return date (assuming no further travels) is November 17. There is some discussion about me heading back to the States for 2-3 weeks and then coming back for a while longer. Still fairly up in the air. But I am going to start the process of finding a replacement with our HR group in the next week or so.
Two people in our Manila group got sick with some sort of intestinal ailment.....and I'm not 100% perfect either. I was very careful not to drink the water, but there are other risks I guess.
Happy (almost) birthday to my Mom! I love you, Mom.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Not much new lately…..
Have you noticed that the posts have dropped in quality recently (if there ever was any!)? I figure that with delane gone, it's just back to the normal grind of working.
Anyhow: I'm in Manila. Came in later Saturday. Arrived at the hotel around 10:00PM Sydney time (8PM here) and was STARVING! I'd eaten a meal on the plane around 1 but nothing since (not that I should have burned more than two calories after sitting on a plane for 8 hours!). Anyhow, so I drop my bags and walk out the door to……Outback Steakhouse. It struck me as very ironic that I came all the way to Manila, from Australia, to eat at Outback Steakhouse! Ended up meeting a few work folks at the lounge later that night and had a few drinks.
Sunday I roamed the markets and other areas around downtown Makati (the district I'm staying in). Nice, but very crowded all the time. There are just tons of people here. Met with the boss around the hotel pool and talked over some business and pleasure later in the day. About 10 of us met later for drinks and then a nice dinner out at a traditional Filipino restaurant. Good food….alot of Chinese type dishes but with some Korean and Japanese influence. A decent quality place and the bill for 10 of us was 5500 pesos, with tip. That's like 60 bucks. And there was plenty of beer included in that total. Food is crazy cheap here.
We had a LONG day of meetings today. We started at 7:45AM and finished the day at 8:00PM! Good stuff, but a long day. I really am lucky to be here with these very senior Coke leaders.
All for now……take care. Email me and let me know how you all are.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Marathon Training and Bagels
So it's just about time to get to training for the Sydney Marathon! (Actually, it's well past time…..). The race is in 7 weeks. My training to date has been somewhat weak. I've been running tons, but nothing real long. My longest run to date has been 1:35 minutes. So tomorrow I have given myself an ultimatum; I'm leaving the apartment in the morning and I'm not coming back until I've run at least 1:50 minutes! Can't be embarrassing the good ole' USA with a sorry performance!
I'm thinking that I should blame the lack of marathon training effort on a lack of bagels! This place is sorely lacking in good bagels. Delane and I did our best to find decent bagels but didn't do very well. There is one place that has ok bagels, but its 10K from here. Kinda a long way to go with no car just for bagels. So I've resorted to getting these really big raisin and date scone from a bakery about 2K away. The routine while D was here was for me to get up for a run and return with breakfast scones. I plan on treating myself to 2 if I make the full 1:50! J
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Delane back safe.......
Already been missing her to death. Calling all friends and family; keep her in your thoughts and give her a shout when you can.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Apparently, there was some controversy during the game. People started throwing change at the opposing team's players. Now there is a big "probe" and the police are looking at video to find the coin throwers! LOL
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Calling all friends to keep a good eye out on her! Delane requires fairly consistent trips to Los Bravos, Bellas, and even Moes (with good friends) to keep her well fed and smiling. :)
BizCoach Ron; thanks for picking my sweets up......really means a ton to have her met after a long trip. A taxi wouldn't have been the same.
Sandra/Doug; Delane will be by with a truck soon to tow away all our mail! Don't know how to say thanks enough......
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
- A minimum of 1300mm (1.3 meters, or about 5 feet) of rain each year
- A forest canopy - layers of trees/shrubs such that there are tall trees blocking out some of the light from lower levels
- A self-contained environment - dead trees/plants serve as a breeding ground from new vegetation
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Great Barrier Reef
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Back to reality!
Caroline, Mom, and girls visited Atlanta this week and stayed at our house. Special thanks to Sandra and Doug for noticing activity and checking on things! I hope the house served you well and that you enjoyed the time in Atlanta. And Brooke and April are there now for a Braves game......oh I'm jealous of that too!
Vacation photos and updates forthcoming.....I've got about 350 photos and I need to sift through a bit to whittle them down to the good ones!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Time for fun!
On a seperate topic; The office here in Sydney started a ten week boot camp program with instructors to help people get in shape. The first session was last week and was only a bit of testing....body fat, weight, pushups in one minute (56 for me) and a short sprint around the Opera House to measure now verse after the program. The first "real" session was this Tuesday. I've done these sessions before in Atlanta, so I was somewhat prepared. I ran about 40 minutes before class started then showed up with my other 12 or so recruits for a 45 minute session. Let me just be honest when I say that walking was a serious challenge the next day! I mean.....it is amazing how you can be in good running condition and then do something new (like tons of squats and lunges) and be laid out sore!
Happy Birthday to Mr. Steiger (on the 11th). Wishing you the best, sir.
Monday, July 9, 2007
Interesting Australian Language Differences
We all know the Australian "G'Day, Mate" and "Barbie" terms from the TV. However, there are many other interesting language differences that Delane and I have been collecting. Here is a summary of my favorites;
- Grog = Beer or other spirits. One of my co-workers is "off the grog" meaning he's given up drinking for a few weeks.
- Dodgie = Kind of like sketchy or questionable. Used very frequently in sentences like "the weather is looking a bit dodgie" or "that part of town is a bit dodgie". Almost always proceeded with "a bit" :)
- Proper = good, or high quality. If you have a nice umbrella, someone may call it a "proper umbrella". Or, if you go to a nice restaurant, they may call it a "proper restaurant".
- Middie, Schooner, Pint, Jug = you guessed it; draft beer sizes. A middie is slightly smaller than a 12 oz beer. Maybe 10 oz. A schooner is slightly larger than a standard beer. A jug is a mini-pitcher, at 3 schooners in volume
- Runner = This is NOT what Jim and Delane do in the park on a nice day, but rather an oft-used term for dodging the bill or shoplifting.
- Kiwi = The term used to describe someone from New Zealand.
- Footy = football, but not American. This is short for Rugby. Used in ways such as "did you see the footy" and "I went to the footy"
- Mate = Ok, i know this is a common one, but seriously; this is very often used as a term of almost endearment. People at work end pleasant conversations with "thanks mate".
- Booking = Delane called a restaurant the other day to get us a "booking". I don't even know if they would understand "reservation"
- Tomato Sauce = Fairly obvious, but; It is NOT ketchup here. It's tomato sauce. Asking for ketchup will get you blank stares.
- Chips = Not Lays, but rather french fries. Very popular here....and good.
more to come.....
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Live Earth Show
We spent most of Saturday at Aussie Stadium watching the Live Earth Sydney Concert. The show started around 11:30 AM and was 10 or so musicians concluding with Crowded House around 8:30. We figured that it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.....getting to see the first of 8 concerts globally to support the environment.
All and all, an unbelievable show. There were maybe two bands that Delane and I both thought not really to our liking. Otherwise it was amazing! Crowded House closed the show. This is the first concert they have performed since ending their career in front of the Opera House in 1996 with everyone says was an unbelievable show.
Even though we just sat and listened, we were both wiped out by the time we got back around 9:30.....and were in bed by 10. A full day of music will wear you out! :)
Thursday, July 5, 2007
A bit more status quo....
I had a bit of home-sickness this week. Missing the 4th of July was a bit tough.....All the fun activities....Peachtree Road Race, social time afterwards, cold beverages, and friends.....those are good times. It was just another day here, but my thoughts go out to my country, friends, and family on the 4th. God Bless the USA. One minor taste of home....the Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier pulled into Sydney Harbour yesterday. Check out the picture below.
The weather this week has been fabulous! Delane looked at the weather forecast and decided Tuesday was to be the best day. She hopped on a Ferry and spend the better part of an entire day at Manly Beach. I'll hope she adds some details, but....lots of people surfing, sunning, etc. It's "school holidays" here (3 weeks, I think) to lots of people out playing.
We are headed to the "Live Earth" Concert on saturday at Aussie Stadium. It's one of 7 or 8 concerts globally and apparently the first of the 8. It's an all day affair.....starts at like 11 and last till 9 or so. Should be a great time and I'm already feeling very "green" :0
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Invasion of Sydney! :)
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Well Jim filled you in on the weekend mostly. After footy on Saturday night we had tickets to the opera house for Sunday afternoon. We had a leisurely morning and walked through "The Rocks" an old cool area of town and stopped at a weekend flea type market. Very cool stuff! Here's where the spoiled part comes in. We went over to the Opera House had lunch at the Opera Bar restaurant which was GREAT! Then it was off to the 18th annual Australian music festival in the concert hall venue. They have several venues, Concert Hall, Drama and Opera Theaters, Playhouse, etc. So, we headed in and needless to say it beautiful! VERY VERY cool venue. We saw two choral groups and then three different orchestra ensembles. One string and the other two brass and woodwinds. The music was amazing and beautiful. I just found myself sitting there overwhelmed at how lucky and blessed I was! Just to be sitting there, in that place hearing that music! I couldn't believe little old me was sitting there in the Sydney Opera house! I found myself wanting very badly to be sharing it with all of you, all of you that I care about and love! During the intermission we walked around a bit and the entire front of the house is glass and all you see is the harbor bridge and water! The architecture and detail is just AMAZING, everything went together and there was not a single wasted space. Ok, get ready to laugh but the restrooms in this place are UNBELIEVABLE! Brooke, April, and Tamara will vouch for me on this. I know this will guarantee me a few response comments :) Darryl you can keep yours to yourself :) The stall doors were completely wood and curved vertically as were the walls. The sinks were the same but.... with no drain! It was like one big white porcelain table with a small 1 inch space between the sink and wall and all the water just flowed back behind there! Anyway it was an amazing experience! Thanks to all of you for reading, checking in, commenting, emailing, etc. We are blessed and spoiled most when it comes to all of you, our friends and family! It really is so nice to hear from you. We miss you dearly and have you in our thoughts!
Sunday, June 24, 2007
A very Australian weekend
Saturday was a blast! We had a nice leisurely breakfast then walked over the bridge to the grocery. Hopped the bus back with groceries and changed up for a run. The temp was warming up nicely and I broke a nice sweat. I finished my run at Observatory Hill (the highest point in Sydney overlooking the harbour and about 100 yards from my place). Delane was up on the hill doing a nice yoga session. Beautiful view, nice weather, yoga....perfect. We zipped home to shower and head to Sydney Olympic Park. We had footy (rugby) tickets for a match between the Sydney Swans and the Melbourne Magpies at Telstra stadium. The stadium is part of Olympic Park. We spent a couple hours exploring the park then hit the beer tent for some food and drink before the game.
We had great seats and watched our first Aussie Rules footy game. It was hyped all week as a huge match and we were expecting a good game and a rowdy crowd! It was much more laid back than we both expected....I guess I imagined a bunch of unruly drunks throwing stuff! Anyhow, the Aussie rules footy is a bunch different than Rugby league rules. In the case of this game, much less exciting. The Swans got CREAMED and played so poorly it made the game a bit less exciting. But the experience is not one to be missed. Really a great time.
We went to the Opera House on Sunday, but I think I'll leave that post to Delane....
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Pain in the Domain
There is a group run Tuesday in the Park right up the street from my office called "Pain in the Domain" . It starts at 12:50 and is a 6K run over a variety of terrain focused on 13 "sprints" of different distances mixed with recovery. The sprints range from 50 meters up a steep hill to 700M all out on flat paths. It is not actually an "organized" event, but even on a very rainy day yesterday about 150 people front up. Some weeks there are 250+.
The run has been occurring for 12+ years, so a veteran runner will step forward and take the lead for group one. Normally there are 5 groups and the only difference is the pace. Group one targets finishing in about 27 minutes and the other groups depart one minute after the previous with a pace maybe 30-45 seconds slower for the entire 6K.
So, 6K, 27 minutes, what's the big deal? Man, is it tough! The sprints are 80-100% depending on the segment. Here is what makes me laugh....the leader gets everyone ready for a sprint....here is the general communication "Ah rig, gather up. From the new henry, down the gullia, to the second gum full out". So the interpetation is "Ok, get ready. We'll go 100% starting at the Statue of Henry, down the hill, then up the hill to the second gum tree." Too funny. The running language is probably more different than anything else!
The Pain in the Domain run is famous enough to have it's own Wikipedia entry. Check it out:
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Taronga Zoo Visit
The zoo itself was amazing! By far the best I've ever seen. First, it's huge and has to be the best located zoo in the world....it's right on a point on a hill overlooking the harbour. The environment is very relaxing. Not animals packed in cages, but rather a very open and spacious environment. They had animals from all over the world, but the really neat stuff was the Australian animals. Kangaroos, Wallabies, Emu, and tons of others. Will post some pics later.
It was nice going with 3 people in the animal business. I felt like I had the personal inside info on all things animals! Delane and I caught the ferry back after being there almost 5 hours and the rest of the girls wanted 45 more minutes and were gonna catch a later boat. All and all a great day when given that it's still raining periodically. We are definitely getting our money worth out of our umbrellas!
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Guests in town!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Rugby League, Aussie Rules, Rugby Union, State of Origin...Um... WHAT????
Well, last night Jim and I had our first Australian football experience. You all know how we are about our football so we figured we'd "give it a go" as they say around here. We went out the burbs and met a friend of Jim's from work. He is a local and invited us out to his "local" (ie, local pub) to watch the State of Origin Game between New South Whales and Queensland. Evidently this is somewhat of an Allstar game where all the best rugby players play with their home state team. They play three of these games a year and New South Whales has already lost the first two, ie. the series :( It was fun to watch and we learned a lot watching with a local and figuring out their rules and how it all works. We hear you all are getting a little rain at home recently which is GREAT. I know you need it! Weather is great here and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Brooke, April, and Tamara! We did just hear that their flight from Charlotte to San Francisco is delayed a couple hours so we are hoping they can hussle and make the connection from San Fran to here. Well, enough about us. Please email us and let us know how you all are and what' s going on back home. We miss you all lots. Take care!!!!!
Monday, June 11, 2007
And the weather improves.......
We had dinner out at Jackson's on George (local upscale pub) with a guy in town from Atlanta doing some work with me. Decent grub, good beer (and wine for Delane). A great end to an awesome days.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Did this weather come with D?
They have a 3 day Jazz festival right now the street at Darling Harour today through Monday (Monday is a public holiday here). We are hoping the weather lets up a bit so we can enjoy some music.
It's been awesome having Delane here. We've been out having a Toohey's at the local pub several nights and enjoying the time together.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Couldn't talk her into EMU Pizza!
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Let the real fun begin!
Saturday, June 2, 2007
It was the MS Run 8K. They have a 9K walk event that started at 10 AM as well. The site described the course as "hilly".....an understatement! Very tough course with 3 places where you had to run up stairs!
Many similarities to Atlanta races and a few differences. Race T-Shirts are NOT to norm for races. Seems only big events (marathon, half) has shirts printed. The race course was not targeted for smooth and safe as often is the case at home. We were popping up curbs, running up stairs, zipping through parks with dirt trails, the works. Of course there was the same type runners there.....social athletes, team racers, and a reasonable number of decent runners that seemed to know each other. The running community here is very strong.
I finished 30th (maybe 800 people). My time was nothing to celebrate....31:30 which translates to about a 39 minute 10K. I was happy enough given the very slow course. My legs have also been pretty dead from running and then LOTS of walking around town exploring.
Something to make me smile
I made my way to a "real" grocery store today to stock up on some food and apartment items. There are 3 stores within close walking distance but all are rather small and very expensive. There are several larger more reasonably priced groceries 3K or so away. So I got up this morning, took a scenic stroll over the harbor bridge and went to a big grocery store. I stocked up on a bunch of stuff and took the bus back over the bridge. All and all a smooth experience and the prices were MUCH more reasonable (not compared to Atlanta, but compared to places I've been up until now...).
Anyhow....the thing that made me smile; I was unpacking my groceries this morning and broke out in a HUGE grin when I pulled out the box of facial tissue I bought! I grinned because I bought for my wonderful wife who was born with a rather perpetually running nose and I knew she'd be here VERY soon and need them! I can't wait............
The rest of my Saturday was great. Weather continues to be awesome....right at 70 today but I hear it will be cooling down a bit later this week. After the morning grocery excursion, I ran over the Centennial Park and the Fox Entertainment District. The Aussie Stadium (Rugby) and Sydney Cricket fields are over there as well. Nice place....a HUGE park with people strolling, playing cricket in the fields, and horseback riding. Ran back via Paddy's Market and bought a pound of shrimp and some veges for dinner. My first meal cooked here (other than one pasta night). Yummy.