Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Home at last........

This blog is officially DONE! Can't tell you how great the experience was and yet how happy I am to be home.

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.....

Well, they have told me I need to go back to Australia.....kidding. Rather, I was presented with a flight cancellation! :(. I went to the airport at 8:30PM for a 10:30 flight from Manila. 5 minutes after I check in I get a "the flight has been delayed till midnight". No drama....I'll still have time to make my San Fran flight if there are no further delays. At 11:00 PM they cancel the flight until NOON Wednesday!. So, while people are yelling, I call the US travel folks and get a flight booked via Tokyo then direct to Atlanta at 7:55 AM. So, I spent 45 minutes retrieving my baggage, have the hotel send a car, check in at 12:15 AM, sleep till 5:15 AM then catch another car to the airport...AGAIN! Sitting here PRAYING that this one leaves or I'm gonna start swimming!

I'm in Wednesday 2:50 PM........still plenty of time to ramp up my appetite for Turkey!

A couple final flights........

HOO WOO! Headed home! I'm sitting here in the Manila airport waiting to catch my flight to San Fransisco! The travel has started out with a sour note, given that I was set to leave at 10:30 and we have been delayed (annouced right as I checked in) by a couple hours. I originally had 4 hours or so in San Fran between flights, so pending no further delays I should be ok with 2 hours to clear customs. I don't want to rush them, as the plane is "undergoing further maintenance checks"!

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.

Boracay


Well, Boracay was interesting. A very beautiful place, but........it's not been controlled in it's development, so it has gotten somewhat overrun with people and just stuff. Too many shacks, hotels, and such and not enough preserved space. It is a VERY beautiful beach, but the other factors took away from the experience a bit.

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

Check please?


The bags are packed and it's time to head towards home! There is certainly a twinge of sadness on leaving, but if anyone told me the plane broke and I couldn't leave today, I think I'd just start swimming!


Christmas party was last night and I am certainly feeling the effects today. It was a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme and someone at work got the bright idea to try for the Willie Wonka look. They really blew it out......stunning food, endless drinks, and the venue was a mini-chocolate factory. They even had some reasonably big Australian female singer perform.


I'm off to the airport in a couple hours for the trip to Boracay. It's an 8 hour flight and I plan on sleeping through most of it!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Farewell Lunch

We had a bit of a going away lunch for me today. I am, as most of you probably know, not much in the way of making a big deal about Jim. But it was nice to get out and spend some time with what have truly become friends. We went to lunch at Doyles in Watson Bay....a famous landmark right on the beach in a real nice area. From left to right: Rita, Me, Dave, Zhou, Rob, Wilson, and Katja. We left work at 12:45 and arrived back by work at like 5:30.....a pretty nice long lunch! There were a fews beers and wine served, but mostly just good social time and exeptional food.




Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Boxes packed

Well, I packed up most of my Sydney life in 5 small boxes and brought them in to work for shipping. They get on a DHL plane tomorrow! It's funny how you can pack up what has been your life and it only comes out to 5 boxes. But I lived pretty bare here, knowing that my "home" was somewhere else.

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

Christmas

Ok, something struck me as funny today; It was the company Christmas event for the entire family today. They have a fancy party this next weekend for the adults, but they put on a nice event at the Zoo today for the entire family.

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

Strange…….

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!

Taupo

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.......

Well, it's official; I'll be home in time to have Turkey! I will have SO much to be thankful for this year!!!! Look forward to catching up with everyone......3 short weeks.

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

I decided it was high time to go walk up the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon to get a birds eye view of the harbour. There are 4 pylons, two on each side of the bridge. Contrary to standard logic, the pylons do not support the bridge. They were put there just for aesthetic reasons, apparently. One of them has an office for CityRail, two of them serve as vent stacks for the tunnel that goes under the harbour, and one is open for walking to the top of. They say it's 200 steps to the top, but it only took a few minutes to walk up the steps to the top. There are several stops along the way where they have signs and other exhibits highlighting the history of the bridge.

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

Tour-De-Markets

With a few business trips that will occupy a solid 10+ days, I realized that my time in Sydney is growing short! I flipped through my "to-do-in-Sydney" list I made over the first several months I was here. I've crossed off every one of the items on the list except for the one that said "Weekend Markets". There are various markets scattered around the city on the weekends that sell fresh produce, trinkets, etc. So, I decided that was my goal for Saturday!

I headed out for a walk to the Kings Cross area for an organic produce market. It was rather small and certainly not worth the 40 minutes it too me to walk there. I guess the only good thing was that they had a booth with some good looking bread so I bought a small sourdough roll for later. On to the next market! About another 30 minute walk brought me to Surry Hills. They were having a weekend festival with music and such along with tons of booths selling produce and other goods. Sat down on the grass, listened to some tunes and ate my roll and a fruit smoothie. The picture here is one of the bands.....check out what they are wearing!


Off to the next! Pyrmont is were the local fish market is, but they had their weekend fruit/vegetable market this weekend as well. Bought some items here.....a couple avocados, some green beans, and some exceptional looking asparagus. At this point I'm wiped out from my tour-de-markets, so it's time to head back for a rest! I stopped off for a coffee and some people watching in Darling Harbour and then stumble back to the apartment for a rest.


The coolest thing about my market tour was it really got me walking through some of the inter-city cool neighborhoods. I've run through a bunch of them, but it was neat seeing all the areas with their individual personalities.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Moth Invasion!

I was walking to the football game last weekend and was attacked! Ok, the attacker(s) were rather small......rather large moths, actually. But when there are billions flying around and a few dozen decide to dive-bomb you, it is a bit shocking! I got knocked in the head a few times, usually while walking near a light.

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

Randomness

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

Well, I have a countdown timer on my desktop set for my current tentative date to come back to the States. Right this moment it shows 44 days 12 hours.....a bit over 6 weeks and I'll be home!

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........

We'll, I figure I'll be happy when it's time to go back to work.....having fun is tiring! :) I woke up early today trying to shaking off a bit of dullness in my head. About 3 glasses of water and a couple aspirin did the trick. I was wanting to head up to Manly (in North Sydney, on the beach) since they were having a big Jazz Festival.....but I also needed to get a run in. So I combined the two and headed out to run to Manly. It is a fair way away and I promised myself I'd run for no more that 1.5 hours then walk/bus the rest of the way if necessary. Ended up being only a few K away at the 1.5 hour mark, so I walked the last bit. Got to Manly STARVING so I grabbed some grub and sat on the beach listening to a band play. Hung out in Manly for a couple hours and then hopped on the ferry for the 30 minute ride back to downtown Sydney.

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

This weekend was Labor Day in Oz, referred to as the "October Long Weekend". Great timing, as the weather is just stellar. There are tons of festivals, sports events, various other activities in town this 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

Footy Show!

They had a drawing at work this week for some free tickets. I put in for the Kelly Clarkson concert and a live taping of "The Footy Show". We'll, I got the passes to see Kelly but missed out on the Footy Show tickets. Kinda bummed until a girl in the office swung by and said she had no interest in her tickets and I was welcome to them.

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

Marathon Update


To be honest, I was a bit worried/nervous about this run. I've had a pretty rough work-week; Arrived from the US Monday AM, straight to the office, and not home most nights till 9:00 PM. Friday I actually got called at 4:45 AM and didn't get home from the office until almost 1:00 AM Saturday morning.....an exhausting 20+ hour day. Not a great start to resting up for the run.

I laid around a bunch on Saturday. It was a bit cloudy out and made for a great day to do next to nothing! I did manage to take a 15 minute jog over to the fish market to get my favorite Scones for breakfast and then jogged home.....nice and easy for sure. In bed at 10 and up at 5 and slept like a baby

The marathon started at 7:15. At about 5:30 AM I called my running bud Dave from the States. I was trying to rationalize a good strategy given a serious lack of marathon distance training. This was by FAR the most under-prepared I've been for a marathon. Dave and I settled on what is a radical strategy for Jim; join the 3 hour pace group and run steady!!!
I left the apartment around 6 and walked the couple kilometers over the bridge to the start. It was chilly, but I didn't want to hassle with a bag check, so I grabbed a trash bag and put it on over my singlet. It proved to not quite provide enough warmth, but I claimed a discarded jumper from the half marathon discard pile and was reasonably toasty till the start (temp was maybe 48 at the gun).
I locked in with the pace group at the start. The first 2K required that we climb over the Harbour Bridge.....beautiful but a decent grade up to start the day. As Dave warned, the pace seemed easy. I was super comfortable with the 3:00 pace. Will try to not bore you with all the course details, but; The first half was fairly rolling with some low/medium grade hills but most of them were quite long. But this obviously meant that there were similar long downhill grades as well. I linked up with a guy from the Australian Army and ran most of the first half with him. At a turn-around I realized I'd gotten about 30 seconds ahead of the pace group. I dropped off just a bit and after a couple miles was back with the 3:00 group. Second half was pretty fair. I was still feeling pretty good at the 18 mile mark.....breathing was very easy but my legs were beginning to tire. With about 7K to go the minor suffering began. It was the time I knew would come......one run over 17 miles doesn't equate to proper training for 26 miles. I let the group go but didn't drop off the pace too bad. It was heating up, too....sun was out and it was 65 or so. The last 4K were totally flat and all on my normal running route, so I knew it was in the bag. No cramps, no walking, just a slower pace...the legs just weren't responding.
Not sure what the official time will be, but my watch showed 3:03:55. I can honestly say that given my preparation level, sticking with a reasonable pace early made it 3:03 instead of 3:15 or 3:20. If I'd gone out hard the pain would have started much earlier. Dave; thanks for the good advise!
Beautiful course, beautiful day..........the only way it could have been better is if I'd had family and friends here to celebrate with. Thanks to all for the well wishes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sydney Marathon


So, the Sydney Marathon is this weekend. I'll be honest and say I was VERY tempted to switch races to the half when I went to pick up my number yesterday! I'm just not in my best marathon shape....actually not really even in marathon shape at all! I'm really just hoping I can go out and enjoy my first international marathon!

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..........

Well, I've had a super time at home in Atlanta for the past week! It's been a bit of an adjustment, as I've been working many nights with the Pacific time zone. But regardless, I've been spending a ton of time catching up with my wife and friends.

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 found a slight gap in my schedule in Australia and decided to make a trip to the States! I didn't post prior to going because my sister and I decided it'd be a good opportunity to surprise my mom. My niece's birthday was this past Sunday, so I flew into Charlotte NC on Saturday night (made it just in time to catch the second have of the Auburn game!). My sister had talked my mom into coming up from South Carolina Sunday morning for my niece Grayson's birthday. It was PRICELESS seeing my mom's reaction! She was, to say the least, surprised! She's been so supportive of me while I've been gone (as have all my friends and family) and it was SUCH a pleasure to get to see them and spend time with my niece on her birthday.

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

Blue Mountains

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Mountains

Funny Video

Ok, I was cleaning up the camera card a bit ago and found this video of the Penguin. I guess my co-worker using my camera took it. Pretty funny.

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

Thank you!

Definitely not the same not being with my friends and family on my Birthday, but I so very much appreciate all the cards, gifts, emails, and post comments all the way across the world. It is days like today you realize what is important….friends and family. I feel very blessed to have such good "mates". Can't wait to be home sharing fun and fellowship with each of you.

So D and my family arranged, as usual, to provide WAY too many gifts! Just finished opening;

  1. Picture Frame and about 10 photos from Delane's and my vacation
  2. A cool jacket
  3. Australia T-Shirt from Queensland
  4. Yoga Mat (now I have no more excuses!)
  5. Alarm Clock (been setting my Blackberry Alarm every day until now)
  6. A new backpack
  7. Espresso book (I'm gonna buy an espresso maker when I get home!)
  8. 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



Today was the race I've been excited about for a while.....After missing Peachtree this year, I was looking forward to the Sydney City to Surf. Over 60,000 people run in a race that starts Hyde Park in the City and finishes at Bondi Beach.

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

Thanks to all that are keeping such a good eye out on my wonderful wife! It is great to have such awesome friends.

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

Upcoming Travels


Time for a business trip! I was lucky to not have to travel while Delane was visiting, but now it's time to pay the price. I'm off to Manila, Philippines on Saturday for a week. In terms of Australia, it's a reasonable flight time....about 8 hours. There are about 20 people from the US, Eurasia, and Pacific coming in for business planning meetings. We've got a full week....starting early Monday and finishing up mid-day Friday. Should be a good work trip, but I am dreading the environment......running there is very difficult (pollution, heat, roads, traffic, etc). I may be Mr. Treadmill for a week!
I'm arriving Saturday evening so I can meet with my Pacific boss on Sunday. I should get a better idea how long I'll be in Australia after our discussions. My visa expires Nov. 30 and my apartment lease is up Nov 17, so I suspect that is the long end of my potential stay.
I had a bit of a difficult time making sure I could be back by Saturday evening. I wanted to make sure I was back and well rested by Sunday morning for the big City to Surf race here in Sydney. Ended up having to fly through Singapore on the way back. One of these days I'll actually stop for more than 2 hours in Singapore...I hear it's a nice place.

Delane back safe.......

Delane made it back to Atlanta safe and sound Monday. If it isn't a long enough trip with no hiccups, Delane suffered through an even longer trip because of a missed flight! Apparently, the process of claiming luggage, going through customs and immigration, and rechecking bags in Los Angles takes about 3 minutes longer that the hour and a half she had! :( At least an upgrade to Business Class on the last leg of the flight made the delay a bit more tolerable!

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

Footy

Delane and I hit a "proper" footy game this past Saturday. We went to an NRL (National Rugby League) game at Telstra stadium to see the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Titans. NRL, in my opinion, is the best "code" of rugby. The game is rather short.....no timeouts. 40 minute halves, with a 20 minute break. But the action is much better than Aussie rules footy.

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

Departure

Well, Delane departs in just over 24 hours. I can tell it's gonna be a bit of a tough day.....what an awesome opportunity we've had to share this experience.

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......

Weekend Fun!


We decided it was time for one more nice night out for Delane's last weekend. She departs Monday :(. So, Friday night was a light dinner and drinks at Opera Bar and then we saw Othello at the Opera House. Opera bar has to be about the best design and location of anywhere! Overlooks the Opera House and the harbour. And Friday night is PACKED. A fun evening!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

APEC Summit

So the Asia Pacific Economic meeting will be here the first week of September. Apparently, there are 21 world leaders here.....including Bush. They are taking it real serious and have declared a public holiday on Sept 7th in Sydney. Got a message from work today. Monday and Tuesday are regular work days. Wednesday is an off-site meeting outside of the Central Business District. Thursday is work from home and Friday is off completely. Check out the event details at www.apec2007.org

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Skyrail


So they have the most amazing skyrail in Cairns! Most of us have probably ridden a skyrail up in North Carolina (or even Stone Mountain!). But right North of Cairns is one that is....get this, 7.5 kilometers long! The thing takes you to a small town in the mountains called Karunda. But the skyrail also stops twice on the way to Karunda. The stops allow you to hop off the cable car and take a stroll through the rainforest. Check out the pictures to the right......many are taken from VERY high up in the air!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rainforest

What makes a Rainforest? I'd always wondered what it took to be a "rainforest". Apparently the rules are:
  • 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
One of the coolest parts of our trip was a short trip up to Mossman Gorge and the Daintree rainforest! We drove North from Port Douglas about 20 miles to a little town called Mossman. Just 2-3K off the main road was a nice little parking area. A trail of about 4K total left from the parking area and walked you through some real-life rainforest.

Now it is the dry season up in Queensland, so it wasn't like steamy and humid as you might expect. Queensland gets it's rain about 4 months of the year.....December - March it apparently does nothing BUT rain. The rest of the year is much much drier. So it was a very nice cool dry walk. The plants and trees are very dramatic (see the pictures to the right). We were hoping to see some tree kangaroos but the only wildlife we saw were some sow/pigs, plenty of birds, and a snake. One of the coolest things up Queensland way, in the rainforests, and all over New South Wales as well are the fig trees! The things are MASSIVE and the roots grow out in a very unusual way. Very stunning plants. Here is a picture:




Sunday, July 22, 2007

Great Barrier Reef


Delane and I took a slightly different approach to visiting the GBR; We booked an overnight trip to stay on a boat for the night. We were in a town called Port Douglas the day before our visit to the GBR and were departing Cairns (about 1 hour drive south) at 8-8:15AM. So we hopped in the car at 6:45 and made quick work of the first 50 minutes. We got 10K away from Cairns and started CRAWLING at like 5K per hour. The clock ticked by and next thing we know we've moved like 2 miles in 20 minutes. Anyone that knows me well knows that being late SERIOUSLY stresses me out! But a quick call to the Dive store let us know that the traffic (an bad car accident) was holding up others and they would wait for us made me relax a bit.

So we departed Cairns for Norman Reef on a boat with like 150 other people....and they should have probably capped it at 100. It was CROWDED. The trip to the outer reef was about 90 minutes and when we arrived it was time to snorkle! We hit the water for about 45 minutes in wet suits, back in the boat, moved sites, then another 45 minutes at another location. By this time I was getting a tad tired of the crowds. But the very bright side was the crew telling Delane and I that the overnight boat we would be transferring too was meant to have 48 people and that there wold only be 28 for the evening! We motored over to the overnight boat around 2:30 and went from crowds to luxury! It was an amazing boat.......huge, with 24 rooms, 2 huge decks, a dive platform, dining room, bar, the works!
Now, about the reef; It is very difficult to describe how amazing the GBR is! Delane and I have had the pleasure to snorkel at many amazing locations around the world and this by far takes the cake! The water was flawless, the fish abundant, and the coral alive, colorful, and EVERYWHERE! I can't begin to count the different varieties of fish in the water........we even saw a Stringray!

We snorkeled a total of 5 times before re boarding the transfer boat for the trip back to shore the next day. We were both fairly surprised at how much we truly enjoyed the reef! It was even better than expected. And I can certainly recommend staying on a boat for a night or two.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Back to reality!

We'll, Delane and I arrived back in Sydney late Friday night. It was a glorious 8 days of "Holiday" (nobody here uses vacation...they are on holiday). We knew it was going to be especially tough to come back as we kept hearing reports of record cold temps and rain. But Saturday in Sydney was an exceptional welcome back. Today so much reminded me of an Auburn Fall football weekend.......warm in the sun, a bit cool in the shade, and a light breeze! Oh how I'm ready to see some American football!

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!

Well, it's time to venture off on vacation, so no more posts from me for a week or so. We are off to Cairns/Port Douglas Australia tomorrow morning and back the following Friday (the 20th). Really gonna be a good time. We are even considering zipping off to the Blue Mountains after we get back on the 20th. The Blue Mountains is a huge area with what is supposed to be some amazing views, "bushwalks" (hikes), and wildlife. It's about a 2 hour drive or you can even catch a train.

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

Interesting thing we've notice around town; Many of the ticketed events in Sydney have public transportation included in the ticket price......you can take trains, ferries, and buses for free to and from the events. Interesting concept; they make it almost too good to pass up to take public transport instead of driving.

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....

Been slack about updating the blog this week. Seems I'm starting to settle in at work...and therefore getting BUSY! Had a few late night "emergencies" this week that required my assistance, so I must now be adding some value!

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! :)


Well, we've had a busy and extremely fun and active weekend. The weather has turned beautiful (although a tad windy) and we were excited about a fun weekend. Friday we had a pint at Rosie's pub then a lovely dinner at a restaurant overlooking Darling Harbour. Hard to describe how beautiful an experience that is.


Saturday (after sneaking in an early run) we caught the bus from Circular Quay to Bondi beach. We walked the beautiful beach and then started off on a 6K foreshore walk to Coogee beach. There is a path that follows the coast and passes 4 or 5 beaches and many rocky cliffs. We stopped about half way for lunch at Bronte and sat at an outdoor cafe for a nice lunch overlooking Bronte Beach park. We strolled on and arrived in Coogee about 4 hours after we began the walk. We wondered around Coogee and happened upon a small stadium with a footy game in action. We walked in and watch for 15-20 minutes. Funny thing is that later than night we caught news footage of the game on TV. Apparently it was a big college team footy game!


After venturing home on the bus, we were a tad tired and sat on our butts for like 2 hours! Then off to a new pub called The Paragon Hotel. We had pints and good food and watched New Zealand and Australia play footy in one of the big "Tri-nations" games. The Aussie's won in an exciting finish!


Sunday was a bit more causal but still a blast! I met Delane after a run through the Royal Gardens. We were going to do a tour of the Government House. Turns out it is being worked on and all but a small area was closed. However, turns out they were having a big "Reserve Forces Day Parade" right out in front of the Government House. We stopped and got coffees and watched a cool military parade (picture of the "invasion" of Sydney above). Back home for lunch then we headed to Darling Harbour. Listened to some live music for a bit then went to the Chinese Gardens......very cool. We finished the day with a trip to Paddy's Market to start buying a few gifts for friends and family back home.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Vacation Plans

Well, Delane and I finally made some of the arrangements for our trip to Cairns/Port Douglas. We are flying into Cairns and then driving North about 50K to Port Douglas. It's supposed to be an amazing little town with nice beaches. We'll stay at the Sheraton Mirage for 3 nights. Then we'll hope on a boat for a trip to the Outer Great Barrier Reef. We'll spend the day snorkling and relaxing, spend the night on the boat, then more relaxing and snorkling before returning to the mainland. Haven't worked out the last few days yet, but we are trying to find a nice place in the Daintree rainforest to stay.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

SPOILED ROTTEN!!!

Hi there all,
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

Lots of fun this weekend! Friday night had us heading to a local pub for a few pints and some food and chips. We wondered down to a very popular Irish pub and split a pint and watched a bit of footy. End of the week made Jim sleepy and we were home and relaxing by 10.

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

Guests Departing


Well, Delane and I are sad to see Brooke, April, amnd Tamara departing today. The weather finally returned to normal yesterday and the girls (Delane included) wore themselves out enjoying the beautiful day! The went to Hyde Park and enjoyed lunch in a nice cafe, back over to Darling Harbour for some clear weather pictures, then to Circular Quay and the Royal Gardens for some last minute pictures.


The 5 of us went out for a nice early-bird dinner at a lovely place right down from my apartment. Then the girls had to rush off to make an 8:00 PM show at the Opera House!


Travel safe, ladies! Thank you for visiting. Delane and I will miss ya'll!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pain in the Domain

Ok, been a few weeks since I told some running lies, so back to it!

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:
http://www.coolrunning.com.au/runningguide/wiki/index.php/Pain_In_The_Domain

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Taronga Zoo Visit

Wow....what a day! We left the apartment today around 10:40 to catch the 11:00 AM ferry to the zoo. The zoo is across the harbour and the best way to get there is to catch a 15 minute ferry across the harbour. Weather held out for an amazing tour on the trip over. When we got off the ferry, you had a choice of a bus or cable-car ride up the hill to the zoo main entrance. Might I highly recommend the cable car ride! Straight up the hill going over the entire zoo. Very nice!

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!

After having only 30 minutes to get off a flight from Charlotte to San Fran and on the plane to Sydney, Brooke and crew arrived yesterday morning minus 1 bag of luggage. Sharing some clothes, the gang wandered around town a bit and went to see the Dali Lama speak in a park. I joined them for a few minutes but then had to zip back to work.

The girls hit the aquarium in the afternoon and then we met back at the apartment for some happy hour pints and then some grub at an Italian place in "The Rocks".

The only bummer has been the rain.....still not as nice as we'd like. Friday rained on and off a good bit and today has been better up still rainy at times.
We spent a good deal of time roaming Darling Harbour. We went to Paddy's Market and the girls bought all kind of goodies. Paddy's Market is like a HUGE farmers market and flea market wrapped into one. Here is one soht of all of us and I also posted a link under pictures to the right with some other new photos. Hoping the weather turns nicer tomorrow so we can all go to the zoo!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rugby League, Aussie Rules, Rugby Union, State of Origin...Um... WHAT????

"Footy" anyone?
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!!!!!

Caption Contest


Well, We had a grand time on Monday (a holiday here) hanging out at the Jazz Festival. The weather was excellent. We sat on the lawn and listened to a US Marine Jazz band for a bit and had some Barbeque. They had 5 different stages going, so after a bit we moved on to a smaller stage. This picture is the result of the visit to this smaller stage......the best "Caption" posted in the blog will get a treat from Australia when Delane returns! the challenge is out!
PS: More pictures posted to the right.
PPS: My sister is arriving Friday....wish her and friends safe travels.

Monday, June 11, 2007

And the weather improves.......

Sunday started to get much nicer in Sydney. The clouds cleared and this blue thing called the sky was seen for the first time in days! :). Although it did drizzle a bit, it didn't stop Delane and I from taking a lovely walk along the "foreshore".....all the paths and parks along the water. There are two parks, the Royal Gardens and The Domain, that stretch for a long ways along the harbour starting near the Opera house. We started near the Opera House and walked 3-4k along the harbour. Stopped for a coffee and muffin once we reach "The Domain". There are these guys that stand on boxes in the park right by the cafe. They are the "Domain Philosophers" and stand there for hours talking about whatever, politics, religion, the environment. Pretty funny.

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?


Sydney and the surrounding area has had about the worst weather they've seen in many years over the past 2-3 days! Poor Delane has been stuck not getting to explore much because of terrible storms. They've had flooding and several ships wash up on shore from the storms.

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!

Delane and I got to share out first meal together in Sydney last night! We went to the "Australian Hotel" which is really just a typical Sydney Pub (I don't think you can actually stay there!). As much as I tried, I couldn't talk her into Barbeque Emu pizza! I bet Darryl Martin would have been all over it!

This is a very typical Sydney dinner out.....go to a local pub, grab a table outside, order at the bar, and have a pint and a light meal. Almost every restaurant/pub in town has outside seating.....often as much or more than inside seating. And it's getting a bit cool in the evening here, so they all have those propane heaters as well. Here is a picture of dinner....

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Let the real fun begin!


So my beautiful wife arrived this morning. I almost couldn't say anything when I saw her. It's only been 3.5 weeks, but it seems longer. Talk about a sight for sore eyes......I had almost forgotten how beautiful she was! :)

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Race

While I was out yesterday, I saw a street sign for a race today. It turns out it was just couple kilometers from home, so I got up today a jogged over for my first Aussie race.

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

You know how the little things sometimes cause the biggest smiles?

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.