Sunday, December 30, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
First off, some Pigeons have taken to sitting in my window box. (You fix up the place and the riff raff move in…) They have pecked off the last few attempts at leaves from the Begonia, so it is well and truly gone now, and have also crushed my Lavender plant.
See? Note the “begonia” on the right.
Compare to 2 months ago here.
This little experiment is going badly.
Basically now, due to systematic reasons it’s too late to get me another paper ticket and everything is full for a new ticket because SE Asia is so popular a travel destination from Australia for the holidays. Farewell Thailand and Cambodia. Canceling all those hotels and eating the cost of my internal flight from Bangkok to Phuket, which is nonrefundable.
So I needed to get travel plans for someplace that was not booked up for Christmas in a short period of time. Thanks to Jess, Steven and their well traveled roommate Gary, for helping me work through the options.
Now I’m going to Johannesburg and Cape Town South Africa instead. Should be totally different, and I am grieving all the plans I made for Cambodia and Thailand, but this should be good too. I’ll tell you all about it. I got a new memory card for my camera for pictures of Table Mountain.
Finally, a quick mailbag update: Thanks to Santa for my new cleats, Mom for the box of cookies, chocolates and goodies, Dad for the annual Kelly family holiday letter, Kim Koo for the Christmas card and photo and Mara for the Thank you note. Merry Christmas everyone!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I still work for Accenture. It’ll be 10 years in June. How can that be! Time flies. The chance came up early this year for me to work in Melbourne for a while. I pounced on the opportunity. Melbourne’s a great city with good parks, museums, bike lanes, bars and restaurants. I’ve enjoyed being a spectator at sports common here like Aussie Rules Football, Rugby and Cricket.
As soon as I got to Melbourne in February, I fell in with a great Women’s ultimate team, Team Box. We won our regional tournament in Tasmania and finished up second at the National Championship in April. Here’s the team (I’m far right of the back row) and me getting a medal at the ceremony:
I also got to train with the Australian National Team at a camp in Sydney in July. That was an incredible experience.
There are really cool animals here in Australia: Wombats, Galahs, Flying Foxes, Wallabies and of course Koalas. Those of you who know how I feel about stuffed animals will understand how excited I was when this photo was taken:
That was topped by this moment at a Koala sanctuary north of Sydney, which is maybe the pinnacle of my life so far. Can you see how Sally the Koala is reaching out to me? She wanted to come home with me, but I had to break her little heart and explain that there are no animals allowed in corporate housing.
For their visit, I drove the mini-van on the left side of the road (with minimal coaching from my parents) to see kangaroo covered golf courses, surfers, koalas, light houses, rain forests and beautiful rock formations. I’m becoming quite the tour guide so be sure to let me know if you’re in Australia in the next couple of months and I’ll show you around.
Here’s my Mom and I on the ‘Great Ocean Road’ in front of a few of the remaining “12” apostles. As you can see, it was quite windy.
That’s about it. Look forward to next year’s letter when I’ll tell you about this year’s Christmas trip to Cambodia and Thailand. If you can’t wait that long, be sure to check in on me at http://courtneyspondence.blogspot.com/ . Happy New Year!
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Work wise, I’m still with Accenture, and spent the entire year working in town for my client, WebMD (Yes, I do have a Genie! Don’t ask what I did with my other 2 wishes, but November went pretty well for the Democrats and if the Eagles make it to the playoffs with Jeff Garcia as QB you’ll know who you can thank for that.) Do check out www.webmd.com for tips on how to ease holiday stress. I am pretty sure they recommend sending one generic holiday letter, rather than all the hassle of individual cards.
Here’s the big news: I may be moving on from WebMD in the near term. I am looking to head to Melbourne, Australia for 12-18 months in February. My client there is Telstra, essentially the Australian phone company. I am VERY excited about the opportunity to live and work abroad and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot in the role both at work and at play. Let me pre-extend the offer for everyone to come and visit. If you’ve always wanted to go to Australia but felt like you needed and excuse, I’m your excuse.
I traveled all over the globe for ultimate this year. It was great! I played in Los Angeles, California; Talladega, Alabama; at Paganello in Rimini, Italy in April, at Wonderful in Copenhagen, Denmark, in Ottawa, Canada, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; several trips to Boston and a tournament in Maryland where Barb & Mike had the entire team over for dinner. (Thanks, Mom!) Ambush had a great time in Copenhagen in May. Here’s a picture of the team that made that trip:
(In the bottom row, I’m second from the left.) I’ll miss Ambush when I move ‘down under’ but ultimate is huge there, so I plan to continue playing. It should be a good excuse for me to break away from the office and meet a few locals. There are two women’s teams in Melbourne so I’ll keep you posted how that works out.
In March of this year I teamed up with some friends of mine (Ben & Curtiss) to start the Gastronauts. We are a group of adventurous eaters who go out once a month to try exotic cuisine. Here’s a picture of me eating a chicken foot, which worried me at the time and now seems completely tame:
So far we’ve had guinea pig (cuy), brain( both calf and lamb), balut (look it up), bat-snails, live octopus, eye balls and every possible variant of tripe among many other atypical dishes. Please check out our adventures at http://www.ccalleo.com/gastronauts/ . There are lots of pictures and a great review of each month’s outing. NPR also did a nice story on us which you can download as a podcast: http://www.prx.org/pieces/15072 .
Thanks to everyone who continues to ask about my nieces. Both Kate (8) and Lindy (4) are doing great, growing like weeds and having a wonderful time. We think they are beautiful and both seem to be growing up without any signs of the cursed Kelly looks. I went to Disney World with Lindy and her family in June on her Make-a-Wish trip. That truly is a wonderful organization and the girls had a blast. As proof, I offer this photo of Lindy celebrating her 4th birthday in Florida:
In December, I traveled to my ancestral homeland (Louisville, Kentucky) to attend my cousin Kristin’s wedding. The wedding was beautiful and the event served as a family reunion. It was great to see all my aunts, uncles and cousins. Many thanks are owed to my family for all the southern hospitality. Here’s my original Kelly family unit just prior to the wedding- my sister Lynn, Mom, Dad and Me:
We had a great time and no one got kicked out of the wedding or arrested (this time).
Here’s hoping you are doing well and our paths will cross in 2007. Happy New Year!
I am still working for Accenture, now in my 7th year. After nearly two years at AOL in Dulles, VA I rolled off that project in April of this year. After a brief stint at Verizon in NYC, I decided it was time for a break. As many of you know, I took a Leave of Absence for the summer, and was off work from June 19th to September 19th. It was a fantastic time. During my LOA, I finally got to take advantage of living in New York City! I spent time in museums, at art exhibits and saw a lot of live bands. I also slept late, did the crossword every day and made a lot of progress on my reading list. I got to spend time with friends and I played ultimate almost daily, but more on disc later in this letter.
During my LOA, I got the chance to relax and spend time differently than I usually do. Here’s me in Vermont in June enjoying a PBR and an ice cream cone on a seesaw:
I came back from my LOA well-rested and refreshed. To cap it all off, upon my return I have been staffed at WebMD which has offices in Manhattan on 8th Avenue at 14th Street! It’s a nice walk to work for me or 3 stops on the subway if it’s raining out. I am very happy to be staffed in town and am working with a great team. Working at WebMD is making me something of a hypochondriac; the slightest sniffle has me checking out my symptoms in their search engine.
This year I played Ultimate all over the US. During the ‘off-season’ I played in tournaments in Los Angeles, CA; Savanna, GA; Talladega, AL; West Palm Beach, FL; Northern VA, Henelopen, DE; Wildwood, NJ; Philadelphia, PA and Warwick, RI. During the UPA championship series club season I played with Ambush again this year. Check out our website for lots of pictures of the season: http://newyorkambush.com/ . We played tournaments in Devens, MA; Burlington, VT; and Chesapeake, MD (where much of the team bunked at my parent’s house. Thanks, Mom & Dad!) We had a tough season with a number of major injuries but managed to come back hard despite those setbacks and come within 2 points of a bid to Nationals. Of course, we were heartbroken, but plan to come back stronger next year. Here’s the team in Massachusetts this June. I’m the cute one in the front row, 3 from the left:
2005 was a good year for my family. Thanks so much to all of you who continue to send kind thoughts and prayers to my niece, Lindy who was diagnosed in 2003 with Neuroblastoma. She is doing well and got to spend this year growing and catching up on just being a regular 3 year-old. Lindy was recently featured on the Website for the hospital where she received much of her treatment. Check out the budding star: http://ncchildrenspromise.org/ . We are so thankful that Lindy is doing well and we continue to hope for clean scans. Please remember to donate blood regularly as there are still thousands of pediatric cancer patients who are receiving transfusions daily. If you make charitable contributions, please consider making a pediatric cancer research donation.
These days, Lindy is spending a lot less time at the hospital and a lot more at home with her dog Sandy:
My parents still live in Myersville, Maryland but are threatening to move to North Carolina to be closer to Lindy and Kate. I was able to see much of my extended family when I was in Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky this summer for my cousin Adam’s wedding. Congratulations to Adam and Zaney! I also went to the beach house my parents and sister share on Oak Island, North Carolina for a week in September. The plan was for a full scale family reunion on my Mom’s side. Unfortunately, Hurricane Ophelia had other plans and most of the clan evacuated. I stayed on and weathered the rainy and windy week. It was crummy weather for a beach holiday, but there was no real damage and compared to the full scale disaster that is Katrina I can hardly complain.
These days I am running some New York Road Runner races to stay in shape in the off season; so far I’ve run five races between 5K and 15K. That’s about everything that happened this year. Stay tuned for the 2006 holiday letter which should include disc travel to Italy and Denmark. Let me know when you come through NYC.
Courtney M. Kelly
208 E. 6th Street, Apt. 29
New York, NY 10003
I hope this holiday e-mail finds you happy and healthy. Once again, I am forgoing the paper Christmas card for an impersonal e-mail for all of you. I can only hope that I don’t end up in your spam folder.
2004 was a blur of airport security lines, deadlines and punch lines. I’m not in New York City much, but when I am, I’m happy. I still live in my apartment on 6th street. Here’s me, pretty recently at the subway station nearest my house:
My biggest accomplishment of 2004 was getting my bike hung up. (Thanks, Paige & Marc.) I have been biking around Manhattan and Brooklyn on the weekends some. Otherwise my bike is here:
I am still working for Accenture and am still staffed at AOL in DULLes, VA. I’ve been in the same extended stay hotel room for 18 months now and there is no end in sight. I was promoted to ‘Manager’ in March which hasn’t changed my work much, but does seem to afford me some more culpability when things go wrong.
Thanks to everyone who sent good thoughts to my niece, Lindy throughout the year. She is doing just great. She has made it through 2 surgeries, 7 rounds of chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, and 12 radiation sessions. That little girl is so tough. I pity anyone who tries to get in her way. Over the past couple of months she has had several sets of clean scans. If you hang out with her, you would never know how sick she has been. She is full of energy and a very happy girl. Here’s a pretty recent pic of Lindy and her older sister Kate:
Those of you who want to keep up with Lindy can visit http://www3.caringbridge.org/nc/lindy/ to see the latest. Please consider pediatric cancer if you make charitable donations this time of year. Please remember to give blood.
This year I tried out and played for the women’s ultimate team from New York: Ambush. It was wonderful and brutal, and I’m not sure I have ever worked out that hard before in my life. I had a great time playing with the team and learned a ton. Ambush traveled to tournaments in Vermont, DC, and Ft. Devens, MA. Here’s most of the team (I’m in the top row, second from the right.):
In vacation planning news, my parents and sister bought a beach house on Oak Island, NC this year. Let me know when you want to go with me and I will get the keys. Seriously. I went to Oak Island for a week this September and spent time with some of my aunts, uncles and cousins from Louisville, KY. It was wild. There were 8 people there 8 years old or younger (all atypically good looking and smart for our family). They were in complete control of the trip. The future is bright for the next generation of my extended family.
That’s about it. Hope you’ll let me know when you come to NYC. Have a great 2005.
208 e. 6th st. apt 29
ny ny, 10003
I'm starting work on this year's holiday e-mail and I thought as inspiration I'd post the last few years here, in the next few posts. We'll see how that goes.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
I can say I was in the Melbourne Hat last weekend, and it was a great time. It is a huge production with 24 teams, 2 dinner buffets, a huge party competitors from all over the world. I had a great time.
The begonia has been given a stay of execution, as advised by Snail .
Thanks to Kimmie for making me laugh, even when work is the 7th circle of hell. This is better than any of the excel graphs I have been making lately.
Jesse wants you all to make your holiday travel plans on his favorite new travel site .
That is pretty much all. I need to get back to quality time with Microsoft Office.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Well I skipped the Window Box update last week with the post on Wilson's Prom and I know that your are jonesin' just like when HBO skips a week on the Wire, so calm down, calm down (Season 4 DVD out now for those already thinking of Christmas) here's the skinny on the 'Box: As you can see the Begonia has about had it. Thanks to Amy for the suggestion to cut it back, I clipped off 2/3rds of the blooms. Maybe it was just to little to late, but the rest of the leaves have turned black and I think the end is upon us. Should I cut the rest of the blooms off? Should I hold a service? The Lavender has developed a huge crush on the Erinus and refuses to stand on his own any more. He is all tangled up. The Erinus doesn't seem to be returning the ardor, but doesn't seem to mind and she continues to grow and flower. I guess 1 out of 3 isn't so bad. That's still better than the survival rate of kids in the New Jersey Foster care system.
Work is nuts. Killing me. I worked all weekend. It blew. I am tired. I did escape on Sunday evening for a throw around of the disc which was a nice change. This week looks even worse. ew.
I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. They don't have that here, but I know enough expats I actually had two Thanksgiving Dinners. Thanks to Gil, Susan and Julia for having me over for an Aussie hybrid turkey and shrimp on the barbie. Thanks also to Mike Shimota who had a lot of the account expats over to his place for a full catered Thanksgiving dinner. People brought their families. There were 40 or so people and maybe a third of them were under 7. There was a tumble bus out front for all of the kids. [Lynn, since I've confirmed the existence of a Tumble Bus down under, will you be coming with the girls, or are we already past that stage? Time flies...]
The election happened. Kevin Rudd (Labor) won as was widely predicted by the polls. Most of my Aussie friends seem pleased with this result, but as far as I can tell he didn't say much during the campaign to inspire optimism. He relied heavily on his election slogan (Kevin 07) which luckily rhymed and tried to say as little as possible that would make voters dislike him as much as they dislike outgoing PM John Howard.
I did steal away a break at work this weekend to plan my holiday trip. I'll be in Cambodia and Thailand over the break. Angkor Watt on Christmas day and Bangkok on New Year's eve. (Vietnam fell out as the Visa process just seemed too complex and I only have about a month to prepare.) Next I'll be planning hotels. Let me know if you'll be in the neighborhood.
Alright then, back to the salt mine.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
This weekend I went back to Wilson’s Prom and had a blast. I was with a truly great bunch of women who I am so proud to call my friends and who take great care of me. We had some run-ins with some pretty aggressive wombats, some great hikes, and played on the beach. The water was delicious. I built some sand creatures, which I really enjoyed. I saw the Southern Cross on the beach after midnight and an incredibly bright shooting star. On Sunday we went on a long gorgeous hike and swam on a secluded beach. We laughed almost the entire trip. I also spotted a lot of carrion, some of which I photographed. See?
I took all the photo’s so I’m only in this first one. This is a typical view in Wilson's Prom. Tegan, Joy, Liz, Me, Jess and Amanda:
Friday night setting up the palatial tents in the dark. Thanks to Jess' parents, I had my own 'room'.
Crimson Rosellas were everywhere:
Another typical gorgeous view. Jess, Gab, Liz, Joy, Hussey, Tegan:
The estate during the day:
Liz on some rocks at the beach:
I made this 'fish'. Jess found the fin and the eye:
This is Sarsaparilla and Jess. She made his hands, among other bits.
Views like this are on every hike. The entire time. It's beauty overdose:
Here's Liz, Amanda and Tegan:
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Thanks loads to Kimmie (who i am name-dropping right and left lately like i have a crush) for passing along this post secret in response to a CSI rant I posted a while back.
Please read this story about the Australian Marky Mark:
Now that he's banned from the AFL he's going to try out for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Also if you had any doubt about the importance of World Diabetes Day, read this touching post (one of hundreds more like it) from Paige and think about what you can do to help.
Tomorrow my boss from WebMD, Emily O'Halloran, is flying all the way around the world to have dinner with me. Well, maybe there were some other reasons for her trip. I'll ask her at dinner.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Check out this story about a killer cockatoo:
And this killer jellyfish:
I'm lucky to have survived this long over here I guess.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
In other news I've been extended to stay here through April, which I am glad about. I'll be busy at work, but hopefully I'll get to Asia on a trip of Christmas and have another good season with Team Box* (*perhaps working on a rename to Sporting Squadron or some such English as a second language joke. Stay Tuned. We'll see.)
I've been working ALL weekend on another PowerPoint and some spreadsheets. Liz and I discussed spreadsheet nightmares. I'm glad it's not only me. I'm not glad I worked all day both days. Makes me GROUCHY!!!!!
Friday I had awesome soup with Amanda and 7/9ths of TEAM WILD who will be going camping back to Wilson's Prom next weekend. I am REALLY looking forward to that. Not so much the camping actually. But the being outdoors and the not being at my laptop.
Thanks to Amy for sending along this free rice link which is a good way to procrastinate when you have to work on a spreadsheet all weekend. Did I mention I was grouchy? It is gorgeous outside.
Here's this week's check on the window box:
Same updates really, Erinus seems taller, Lavender wider, Begonia sadder. Look back here to see a much happier Begonia on October 24, really just under 3 weeks ago. This serves as another reminder about how roommate situations can be complex. I recommend living alone if you don't want to look like that sad Begonia.
They put up even more Christmas decorations everywhere. Everywhere! There are these frosted metal stars that reflect like a hologram on a credit card across all the streets. There is much more Christmas stuff than I ever saw in NYC, even with the Maceys Day Parade and the Nightmare/Miracle on 34th street. See?
These stars are lining every block of every street in the CBD. It's a wonder, just the sheer volume. I dislike them.
In contrast, here are some decorations I do like. This is a current view of Flinders Street Station, the train station about a block from my apartment. Can you see that they are promoting World Diabetes Day? Click here to learn more.
A few posts back Kimmie blogged about here interst in this, ""Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.") and is said to have called it his best work." Well this isn't quite as moving, and it's 25, not 6, but this is a sign that someone posted in my elevator this evening:
I bought tickets to the Australian Open in January. That should be fun. I'll let you know.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
One of my favorite people has turned up in one of my favorite places. I love the Economist. It's the best news magazine and the only source of truth down here in the upside-down world. I love that tiny font, even though it takes me a month to get through an issue. Kimmie Kay and her husband wrote a letter to the editor. How cool is that? Check out the current issue (Nov 3-9) with Adam and a hand grenade on the cover. Here's the link to the letter. Way to go John! Fire season is just about to heat up down here, are you coming?
I went running with the bats again tonight. This is a lot better than when I went running with the rats in DC.
Is everyone looking forward to next season of Prison Break? He's going to be abducted by aliens and have to break off the spaceship. I can't wait.
Are you watching the new A-Team called the Unit? It's a pro government, pro-army version. The good news is that it won't be impacted by the Hollywood writer's strike because it's written entirely by Karl Rove.
I'm sleepy. Leave me alone.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Work persists in being totally nuts.
In other news, I took this photo while shopping for the picnic lunch we had today at the race.
See the pink bunny selling the Duracell batteries. I am flummoxed. You can see him better here on Duracell's website.
Don't we all remember the Energizer Bunny?!?!?!?! If not click here.
This tells me two things. 1) Pink Bunnies = Sell Batteries. Is this obvious? Please explain. 2) Duracell's ad company said persuasive things like: "Oh yeah when we take the sunglasses off it makes him seem more trustworthy." And someone believed this was not just copying your homework off the person sitting next to you, and an ad campaign was born. :(
The Window box is getting out of hand. The Erinus is still growing, but the Lavender is ranging out and tangling up with the Erinus. I do not approve. The poor Begonia seems less happy every day. It just drops blooms. See?
Saturday, October 27, 2007
To summarize the results:
My readers include Robbie, Paige, Sarah, Matthew, Rueben, Dennis, my Mom, J. Mordecai, my Dad and Jennifer. That’s a total of 10, which is lucky because it makes the math on the following percentages so much easier to calculate.
Based on the drive, 30% of my readers are family, 90% are living in the USA, 40% are female, 20% are living in NYC and 20% are living in DC. A shockingly low 40% count as current or former ultimate players.
Maybe I should estimate some lurker, non-responder % as well. I’ll say another 50%, bringing me up to 15 readers. Go ‘Spondence! With this kind of circulation I’ll be in syndication in no time.
Now, on to some specifics:
Robbie. Wow. I had no idea. I had NEVER EVEN HEARD of Mother’s Finest, and had no idea that would be your type of music. Seriously. That is a great song. Would you and Lynn call that ‘your song’. ;) Also, World B. Free is good, but as J. Mordecai points out below, changing your own name is cheating.
Paige, sorry to blow your mind. You don’t have to get the song tattooed on your forehead or anything. It’s just a point in time. I’m also grading on a curve and having a diabetic toddler gets you extra credit, see? Thanks anyway for trying.
Sarah, Yes, where is that Jello mold? I have my Jello right here, mixed and ready to pour. On a side note, Jello here is called “Jelly” so you would never have Jelly on toast, only Jam. So if you are looking internationally it might be best to look for a Jelly mold. Maybe that will help. I will just have to keep stirring until the mold arrives. My arm is a bit tired so hurry.
Matteo, Hooray! I love the Macon Whoopies. That is very good. A hockey sweater would be a nice add to my collection too, so I’ll get on to Santa about that. I have been very good this year.
Rueben reminds us he’s already conducted a much more thorough study on the song topic here . Thanks Rue.
Dennis, obviously still a debater at heart, wins for being the most thorough and I flowed everything across with no drops. Thanks for your detailed answer. You know how much I love responses. Yes, Randle el is a good one. Please check out his dedicated personal site this guy gets points for being thorough too!
The cool thing about the Radiohead album download is that you can choose how much to pay. So say, based on experience you like about 4 songs an album and you think a song is worth 99 cents, then upon checkout for the album you could opt to pay $3.96. Cool, eh?
Mom, glad you still like Garth Brooks’ The Dance. The Saint Gabriel Archangels certainly is a mouthful. How do you cheer for that? Go Archies? (Yes, the cold is pretty much gone now thanks.)
J. Mordecai, Waiting for Superman is a great song. Great, Musically. But the vocals cannot compare to Gladys. At all. Maybe someone who can sing should remake that song. Who do we need? Lauryn Hill? Trying to save this missed pick by switching to the Smiths is a bold move. A bold move indeed, when How soon is now is not even the best Smiths song (This Charming Man). I would agree that this is at least warmer.
Dad, I certainly can count on your consistency. Yes, I love the Eagles comment. Especially ironic as the Eagles were formed in LA.
Anonymous, is that Matthew again? Yes, everyone loves Dick Trickle. But until you fess up to who you are, it’s Mr. Trickle to you.
Jen – wow. That’s a compliment. I’ll take it, but I think J. Mordecai would DQ me as well for adding the F as my “confirmation name”.
Whew! That’s about it.
In other news I have to work all weekend this weekend. Boo. Grr.
Here’s an update on the window box: As you can see, I rotated the window box to put the Begonia at the North end as there is a little bit less sun up there and the Erinus was reaching left/South for more sun and the Begonia was burning up. We’ll see if this helps. The Lavender has about doubled in size since I transplanted it, so I assume it is pretty happy.
Also here is a poor quality cell phone photo of the giant Christmas tree I walk by on my way to work:
ew! Have a good week.
Happy Birthday to my Dad and J-Christ and good luck at Nationals to Ambush despite and organized campaign to thwart you by the UPA.