Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I got my boxes this morning. I can’t believe how much stuff I have. I have waaaaay too much clothing. To steal a phrase from Amy Cooper, I’m a bad Buddhist. I haven’t even started unpacking and my giant apartment is basically already full. I am going to be so spoiled when I try to move back into 29. I will be unpacking later tonight.
I got Deirdre as well. She is in pieces. I am not sure how to put her back together. I’m sure I could take her to a shop, but I may look it up on the internet and see if I can do it as a project.
The Hoyas went and lost in decisive fashion to Syracuse. Boo. I’m actually okay with that, as I didn’t want to go into March with the pressure of a long streak looming over the team. Also good to get a little taste of humility while you should be working hard. This will just make winning the big east tourney even more fun.
When Amy Cooper & I studied abroad in Dublin in 1997 we had a little expression, “That’s so Ireland.” Things that merited this comment included trying repeatedly to pay a water bill with ever heightening complexity, paying 10p for a pack of ketchup, (Which incidentally is called tomato sauce here. They have never heard the word ketchup and will look at you like you have 3 heads if you request it.) and trying to decipher the multiple tiers of fares on the bus.
I’m resurrecting “That’s so…” and here’s today’s installation of “That’s so Melbourne.” Letting you order something twice. Jerks. Here if a sandwich comes with chips, it doesn’t say so on the menu. If you order a sandwich and chips, they won’t tell you, or ask if you mean to get them in addition to the ones that come along with it. They’ll just bring you your sandwich and two orders of fries and look at you like you are a pig. This happened to me last night at dinner for the third time. I ordered the soup. Thinking some bread might be nice with that, I ordered a piece of bread. My soup came, accompanied by two little plates with bread, one that was automatically included and the one that I ordered. “That’s so Melbourne.”
Okay, I’m off to something called “Late Market” at the Queen Victoria Market which involves free wine and shopping. Then I’ll go home and try to deal with all my possessions. I hope there’s plenty of wine.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Also, thoughts on luring pigeons or other birds to nest on my window sills are welcome. I miss checking on the pigeons every day. Maybe I will steal a penguin from Phillip Island like what happened at that British zoo.
Today’s Australian nuances: TBD (to be determined) is always TBC (to be confirmed). The season is always called ‘autumn’, never ‘fall’. “How are you doing?” is “How are you going?” This is like Kenneth Good visiting the Yanamomo, the way I can exist in these two disparate worlds. I’ll be turning this blog in as my ethnographic field notes. Simon, can you get me a grant?
I have been running a little more since I got here and my hips have been a little worse since I got here. I am thinking I need to find a pool so I can run a little less and swim a little more. I will keep you posted on that. Ugh. I am not excited about that.
I may finally be getting all my stuff delivered this Wednesday. At this point I can’t even imagine what could be in all those boxes. I know it’s not stuff I need (except for Deirdre). Possessions are such a burden. The Buddhists are on to something, just for laziness sake.
I don’t have cable in 301 so I haven’t been watching CNN international since I moved out of the hotel. This has significantly improved my life. CNN international has terrible programming. It is diluting the brand.
Now I watch the main public channel, Channel 10. It has David Letterman, and Lost, and My Name is Earl and House and CSI Miami, but not New York. It also has this INCREDIBLE music video show. I forgot how good it used to be when MTV played videos. The show is 30 minutes or so. Let me tell you what the videos where from the end of the last show I saw:
1. Creedence Clearwater - Looking out my Backdoor
2. Lenard Cohen – First we take Manhattan
3. Tom Waits – In the Neighborhood
4. Lou Reed – No Money Down
I am not kidding. I could not make this up. It was incredible. I didn’t even think that Tom Waits video existed. I bet you could start watching MTV right now, and watch it ceaselessly for the next year and not see those 4 videos. And that is exactly what I recommend you do. Staring right now: Quit your job, order some take-out and keep me posted on your progress. First person to see all 4 wins. Good luck.
As long as I'm launching contests here, lets issue one more challenge. I've been itching to use Webdings ever since I saw that this was one of the fonts that blogger provides. Here is today's Webdings scramble. Good luck: Pointless. .
~C M F K
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Apologies for the blogging gap this weekend. I will have DSL at home soon, but at this point I do not have any internet connection at 301, so I could not provide any updates this weekend.
On Friday after work I went to a barbeque at the house where the 3 captains for Team Box reside. It was a great time. It was a short tram ride away, though I could have walked it. They have a nice house with big living areas and a good space outside. The party was well attended and there were people from all three women’s teams here (Team Box, Honey and Ishtar) as well as two men’s teams (Heads of State and Chilly). Everyone seems to get along well despite the natural adversarial position. There was much grilling, beer and salads. I met a ton of people and explained to them all that retaining David Hicks in Gitmo with no trial and no rights was pretty much my idea, and they better be nice to me or I’d have them locked up too. I also explained how my vision for Iraq has almost completely been realized. On my way home from the party I saw some of Melbourne’s loathed bat colony. I think bats are cool, especially since I don’t like mosquitoes, but for some reason Melbourners seem to universally dislike them.
On my way to the barbeque I learned a cool nuance about the tram service from a nice 7-11 clerk. You can buy an unlimited pass for A$6 or a 2 hour pass for A$2. The clock stops after 6PM for the trams, so you can pretty much ride unlimited after 6PM on the A$2 pass. This is the type of info that makes me feel like a local.
Saturday involved brunch, some work, a long run, some errands, setting up of 301 and some work on my window flower boxes (pulling out the long-dead previous residents.) Brunch was okay, but not a full success. I had a good omelet and toast and a great cappuccino. I cannot find anything that resembles a bloody mary in this town. I may have to make them myself beforehand and bring them in a little thermos. (Lynn, does this signify dependency?)
Sunday I slept late, called Mom & Dad, watched rugby and cricket on TV and went to practice. Practice was great and we scrimmaged another women's team at the end (Honey) and won. We worked on a new verticle offense and a play that remind me of the Cherry Bomb. After practice we went to a Belgian beer hall for, you guessed it, Belgian beer. I also had some fries. It was a good time.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Oh yeah, all those cafés: They serve brunch! There is nothing I enjoy more than a good brunch. I will be searching for a good bloody mary this Saturday prior to doing my taxes. Woo Woo.
I am just sick about this: My ambush teammate Emma tore her ACL. Emma could not be a sweeter girl and is a great person and a hot little player. This is a big injury and she’ll need surgery and a lot of rehab. With J-Christ, Brenda and now Emma, Ambush is running at 1 per year for this devastating injury. (You could go 4 for 4 if you go back to Pauline.) Here’s wishing Emma all the best in her recovery and also wishing that the Sports Therapist could come up with some exercises to prevent this injury.
I met my boss today. He seems really nice. I think this is some mild progress.
I got the electricity turned on in my apartment. It’s even better with the lights on and the stainless steel fridge running.
It looks like I won’t get my stuff delivered until next week. We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.
Tomorrow I have a BBQ to attend.
Lynn, I found the boomerangs in a tourist shop, do you really want one? I’m afraid that if I mail it to you it will just come back.
ps: More proof that everyone hates clowns.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
The apartment has very high ceilings. It has large windows in the living room and each of the bedrooms. I have lots of stuff I have never had before. I have a dining room table that seats 8. (!) I have wine glasses and 4 pots and lots of plates and stuff. I have a toaster. I have serving dishes. It is all nuts. The apartment has lots of vases and some sort-of weird art.
I have a walk in closet. I have 2 bathrooms and a washer dryer. I have a window box outside of one of my windows. Lynn, any suggestions for the box? It gets direct sun at least some of the day. Ideally some birds will nest there so I can watch them because I miss my pigeons. Drew, how are the pigeons? I hope you are checking on them regularly and monitoring their progress.
The bad news is that the electricity hasn’t been turned on yet, which is a bit of a let down. I’m hoping this is resolved soon. Without it, thoroughly modernly outfitted apartment seems very 1800s.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Who mountain climbs with a dog? How does that work? Does the dog have a harness? Do you belay him up and down places? Erica? Marc?
Will everyone just shut up about Brittany? She looks great with a shaved head. This is maybe the best she’s ever looked. Here’s the rule. Pretty girls looks even prettier with shaved heads, because they are so striking. That’s when Sinead O’Conner looked best. Regular girls look worse with shaved heads because they don’t have their hair to cover anything up. Brittany may be a trashy has been pop-star with a knack for getting knocked up by sleaze bags, but she is pretty and therefore looks great bald.
I am moving into my apartment tomorrow. I am excited, because I will be able to have my stuff delivered and get Deirdre (my bike). I am bummed to be leaving the hotel where they clean up after me and bring fresh towels every day. I wish I could live in a hotel forever.
I have to go pack. (You know how much I like packing: Like a cat likes going through a car wash on a skateboard.)
Monday, February 19, 2007
I charged Nelson this morning for the first time in two weeks. He is incredible.
I am tragically over my jetlag. I hate mornings. I am not trying to be Garfield here, I am just being honest about my circadian rhythms. When I was jetlagged, I was getting tired early and getting up early. That was great, and I thought I could just hang on to it, but I couldn’t. I was happily working last night at midnight. Not tired at all. I could have plugged along a few more hours. I knew I had to make myself go to sleep so I could get up today. That was a struggle. I had to listen to them reading the book to me on the radio for a while. At that hour, it’s a modern aboriginal piece of fiction. I finally fell asleep. Still the wake up was unpleasant. Sooooo unpleasant. So I am tired and grumpus the first few hours at work and really just get going around 12 PM. What could I do that is noon to 11 PM instead of 9-8? That is what I should figure out. I think there would be a lot less fighting my nature in that lifestyle.
I had a disaster today playing plus/minus. I was running the 5K lap around the Royal Botanical Garden. I was 2/3s of the way done and up a few (mostly just chicks) when I was passed by the east German cross country team. They were all 6’4 and had haircuts like Ivan Drago. They were running like Mike Kelly from Holy Cross in 1966. Just like that, negative 8. I vowed to get back to even by running a second lap. I stepped up the pace and got to negative four even though there were fewer runners out and it was starting to get late. I was pushing it and totally tasting my curry chicken lunch. Wait for it. You know what is coming. I was about a half a kilometer from the end of my second loop when--- they lapped me. Negative fifteen for the day. That was not what I had planned.
This will probably happen to me one day. Maybe that is why I am posting on the blog so incessantly. So you will keep checking on me. I have everything set up on autobill pay so it will be months before the utilities come looking for me, and even then they’ll probably just turn my account over to a collections agency.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
You can give to St. Jude’s Hospital
Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation
Alex’s Lemonade Stand
Please give this some consideration. I wouldn't ask you if this wasn't important to me.
After Chinatown I went to 5 hours of practicein Faulkner Park. It was 40C, which is over 100F and very sunny with no breeze. I burst into flames several times. It wasn’t my best practice ever, but I played okay. We are working on a new junk defense that is man on the handlers and zone downfield. It seems pretty cool. After practice, I went to a 7-11 for Gatorade. You can’t get Citrico Vibrante or my current favorite, Purple Rain here. I had to settle for Blue Ice. I took the tram home and I am pretty worn out so I am just going to stay in tonight and work a little.
As predicted, the Hoyas beat Nova and moved into the lead in the Big East. They haven’t been this good since AI & I were sophomores. I think they were motivated by my leaving the country.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
While there, I ate a small flatbread pizza with ‘rockets’ which I learned upon delivery only means greens. I’m not sure what I was hoping for, but something more impressive than greens. Realizing on the tram ride home that the 2 pints and smallish dinner would leave me hungover the next day, I stopped in a “late night” diner on the way home for pancakes, which were pretty good. The diner closes at midnight and I was probably their last customer. Everything here closes early. I haven't closed a bar yet, but i think they close at 2.
I haven’t figured out when people get anything done here. Any errand you might want to run opens after you get to work and closes before you get out of work. The dry cleaners are all open M-F 10-5. (Maybe I should look into that line of work.)
Anyway, my attempt to stave off the hangover by eating didn’t work and I still woke up with a headache and stomach ache. I guess that is just another similarity from home.
Today it was 38C/100F in Melbourne. I did some shopping in the GPO (General Post Office) which is a gorgeous old building restored with a high-end mall inside. I don’t need anything else, but somehow I bought some more stuff.
While I waited for it to cool down outside, I went to the Queen Victoria Market, which is up the street from my hotel about a 5 minute walk. It houses over 600 vendors and claims to be the largest open air market in the southern hemisphere. It was impressive, but I wonder if whoever certified that claim ever heard of India or Brazil. The market was daunting. There were vendors selling everything imaginable. Lots of food, clothing and antiques. It seemed like the kind of place Lynn really would have liked. I got out of there.
It started to cool down around 7 or so and I went for a run around the Royal Botanical Garden. Families were going into the garden with picnic baskets for an evening concert.
After I post this I’m off to a bar around the corner from my hotel that has live music. I’ll have to stick to just one drink tonight, since I have practice tomorrow (from 1-5, and it’s supposed to be 38C again, so I may fry).
Friday, February 16, 2007
Here’s my new address:
301/238 Flinders Lane
Melbourne Vic 3000
Let the flood of care packages burst forth!
I had sushi today for lunch. Australians serve sushi roles uncut and just eat them with their hands in one hotdog sized piece. It seems a little lazy to me and I guess I’d prefer them sliced, but when in Melbourne… (Anyone know from Japan which way of serving the roles is more authentic? Amy? Ben? Alex?)
From all the news I am getting from back home it seems I am missing one hell of a winter. I hope you are all warm and getting in some games of snow disc. Wrap up in a blanket and get some hot cocoa and get on the couch to watch the Hoyas beat up on Villanova this Saturday at Noon. I’ll be listening to the game on internet radio. Hoya Saxa!
I’m off to the Mountain Goat Brewery in Richmond, which is just east of Melbourne. I’ll be taking one of my beloved trams (#75). I’ll let you know how it goes.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Somehow, my laptop and I have become enemies. He takes for-ev-er to boot up and just as long to open any application or file. I ran my virus scan and my Accenture eSupport ‘Laptop Checkup’. Both did nothing. I think maybe he just doesn’t like Australia. I wish he would get over it.
I made it to work today. Some days are better than others. This was one of those days that was not as good as the better days.
After work I caught the tram down to Faulkner park for Box practice. Practice was fun. We are working on an offense where we always get the disc off by 3 and there are a lot of short cuts. It’s like a 7 women homina. I am learning a lot. We threw, played what was essentially mini and did some drills. After practice, I got a beer nearby with a few of the girls and had some french fries. They seem really nice. I am going out with some of them tomorrow right after work. We’ll see, but there may be NO FRIDAY POST. I’ve been warning of this possibility, but it’ll seem like crying wolf if I don’t occasionally skip a day. I am getting a little addicted to ‘publishing’ every thought I have, however banal.
You know how I can’t fall asleep in silence and I rely on sports talk radio. I am a total addict. I miss the Yankees call in shows. They knock me out immediately. Some fool in November wants to know the batting order or if some AA prospect might move up to AAA this year. I haven’t found an Australian equivalent. I have found a radio station that reads books to you. I am having trouble following the story, because I fall asleep right away, but I like it nonetheless. I make up the parts of the story I don’t know. The current book is some French love story from the 1800s where both of the people are being aloof. Nothing at all seems to happen in this book (except the couple’s successful avoidance of each other) so I fall asleep right away.
I’m off to listen to a paragraph or two of that.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Happy Valentines Day. Try not to get any paper cuts from your valentines.
Things I miss so far:
- Orbit Gum
- My heavenly bed
- Stores being open whenever I want
Orbit is the best gum that was every created. I love the stylish little wallets the gum comes in. I especially miss the new Mint Mohito flavor. And lemon-lime. And Orange. All awesome. They have Extra brand gum here. So weak. So 1998.
My heavenly bed is the best money I have ever spent. The mattress is a narcotic and being anywhere near it induces sleep. It is the finest mattress that man has ever made. I am hopelessly spoiled and all other mattresses pale in comparison.
I snoozed a few times today and woke up too late to go run at the RBG. I decided to use the hotel treadmill. I had Nelson going full blast and International CNN on and I was killer bored. I barely made 20 minutes. How do humans do this? It was terrible. I have long said that there was no need for waterboarding and deficating on the koran. If we want anyone in Gitmo to tell us anything we should make them do track workouts. Some say 400s, but I really feel that an 800 is the most terrible thing in the history of humanity. Now I think they should do those 800s on a treadmill.
Speaking of Gitmo, I guess there is an Australian (David Hicks) there who, like everyone else in Gitmo has no trial rights and basically no human rights. It is a big issue for Australians and there are banners everywhere that read Free David Hicks. It's a reminder that even places like Australia where Americans are still fairly highly regarded, the Bush adminstration and its ceaseless terrible choices have alienated the rest of the world, fortifying our enemies and straining our allies.
- When you 'select all' does Blogger sometimes just delete all? That happens to me a lot and I find it excruciating.
- Is there any way to see a view count for posts?
Any help you can offer is appreciated.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I went for a run ‘around the Tan’ which is what they call the 5K loop around the royal botanical garden this morning. That went fine.
I went to work. Also fine. There is a LOT to do.
Sorry again that this isn’t more compelling. I bet you went to work today too. Big deal. I know. Anyway, if you knew me before this trip you can’t really have expectations that are too high for this. (Though the continual apology is pretty much a guarantee…)
I went to the grocery store on my way home for some fruit since I have been eating a lot of take out. They had durian in the produce section, which was pretty cool and made me a little homesick for the Gastronauts. I miss you guys. I am bummed about missing the most recent outing for pig’s ear tacos. The pictures look like it was a really fun time.
Now I am back at the hotel working a little more and watching some TV. There is a lot of American programming here. The Simpson’s were just on. Lost and Desperate Housewives and the OC are all on here. Last night I watched Southpark and Drawn Together, which are on cable at home so I don’t see them often. There is also the occasional TNT NBA broadcast, I guess from the day before. I am looking forward to Wednesday to see Extras the show Ricky Gervais has been working on with Stephen Merchant since The Office. It can’t be as good as The Office, but I’m sure it’ll be interesting.
There are a couple of things that I thought I’d be getting a little less of here in Melbourne that apparently there is no escape from:
1) Constant US presidential election coverage. The whole thing basically exhausts and sickens me. Barak Obama is on the cover of the newspaper here The Age for the second day running. I like the guy, but can we talk about this in 2008 please?
2) Hallmark holidays. I thought maybe Valentines Consumer day wouldn’t be as big here in Australia. I thought wrong. Same Cards/Flowers/Chocolate holiday as at home, with just as much consumer focus and just as little purpose.
3) Small talk. A human tried to talk to me today in the elevator. I hate that. I basically can’t tolerate human interaction that I don’t initiate. That’s why I shrink from surprise hugs. I’m in the elevator of the hotel trying to get back to my room. Some person I don’t know at all asks how my day was. I freak out. What is an appropriate answer? I can’t be too detailed or say anything that requires explanation. I’m running out of time. I get off in 3 floors so that’s what, maybe 10 seconds? The pause has been too long now to just say, “Fine”. There’s been some buildup. I need something witty and concise. And neutral. And safe. What do I settle on? “It’s raining.” See how that works: weather is a safe small talk topic. Let’s show you the scene as if from a play.
Courtney enters stage left and just as the elevator arrives and boards directly behind the stranger.
Stranger: How was your day?
10 second pass. Courtney is visably flustered
Courtney: It’s raining.
Elevator arrives at the 9th floor and Courtney exits.
Here’s the thing. It’s not just that the response doesn’t relate to the question posed. It’s that we had both just come indoors. It was not raining. In my haste to search for an appropriate response, I chose the first thing that came to me, which naturally, was a lie.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Apparently, I thought life was going a little to well for me so I decided to wear really uncomfortable shoes to work today. I think I have about 20% less skin on my feet now. Go me.
I ate lunch at what was essentially a mall food court. It was fine. I had a pretty standard salad. One Australian nuance is that salad bars here seem to pretty consistently offer roast pumpkin, which is not as common at home. It’s a nice addition. After lunch I felt compelled to try a product here that is called a “Puffy”. This is a crisp cookie that they fill with crème like a crème puff right in front of you. The process and contraption used is akin like putting air in a tire complete with the noise. The puffy was fine, and I’m sure incredible good for me.
Sorry, that’s pretty much it.
Note: Mom, some days I won’t have a post at all, which does not mean anything is wrong. Please do not contact the US embassy or the consulate.
One final note is a shout out to my little cousin Lucas in Kentucky who has been reading the blog and also finding Australia on the globe. Lucas is in to Tae Kwon Do. Lucas, I’m pretty sure you would have liked my trip to the aquarium this weekend. There were sharks and jelly fish. I’ll be sure to let you know when I go to see the Penguins and Koalas too.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Last night I went to the Crown casino. It was pretty much like any casino in Vegas: garish, over the top. I played $5/10 limit Texas hold ‘em for 3 hours or so. I was up about $100 at one point, but left down about $20, which is not too bad a price to pay for a night of entertainment. I played like I always do, which is to say to pay to see every flop just in case and also to keep calling bets in the hope of making my hand on the river. This never works and I always lose. I’m consistent. I’m true to my motto: Never Fold.
Today I worked from home in the morning and called my sister. She is doing well.
In the afternoon I headed out to the park to try out for team box. I got there early as is my custom. It was literally hurricane force winds. There were large limbs falling from trees. It was scary. There would be a loud cracking noise and then a branch like 6 or 8 inches in diameter would crack off and fall to the ground. I was frightened and stayed in the middle of the field away from the trees. Just the roar of the wind was deafening. Needless to say, it was NOT an ideal day for Frisbee.
Tryouts started EXACTLY like an Ambush practice. Maybe all ultimate teams are the same. We jogged, stretched and then did plyos. We even did the plyos in the exact same order we usually do (high knees, butt kicks, shuffles, etc.) Then we started 10 throw. This was a total disaster. It was soooo windy. I was barely completing my flat backhands and flicks. When we got to IOs it was ridiculous. I don’t think I completed a single backhand IO. For IO flicks I basically just threw flat ones, and they were still bouncing off trees and coming down 30 meters away. It was terrible. At this point I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make the team, but I obviously needed some practice so I decided to stick it out.
Thankfully the wind died down a little. We did drills and played a scrimmage. I played well in the scrimmage and got called in a number of strings. I played good D and even got a hand block on one of the captains, which got me some oooohs from the team. It was fun. After the tryouts I was invited to play on the team.
The team is great. 4 of the women were on the Ayer’s Frock team that won Paganello last year. (Christ, Tucker: remember that incredible Asian girl from the finals? That’s Joy, my team captain. She is awesome.) Some of the women were at Copenhagen with Icini and remembered Ambush. A couple others have played for Bliss, so it’s a pretty strong roster.
I’ll be going to practice on Thursdays and Sundays and also working in a track practice (Barrel of snakes!) until Nationals in April. Next up is Regionals in Tasmania in March. I’m planning to take an extra day and see Tasmania a little (and get a Taz Devil tattoo because they are so original. Just kidding Mom.).
The girls from Team Box were all friendly and nice and I’m psyched to be on the team. They run a really spontaneous, fluid offense, which will be a bit of a change for me so I’m sure I’ll learn a lot.
We are ordering team jerseys. Rather than a name on the back, everyone will be some sort of Box, since we are Team Box. So, the backs of the uniforms will read: Cardboard, Jack-in-a, Shoe, Pizza, etc. This is where you come in. I need some help naming my box, as it were. I was thinking of “Box in a…” but I’m not sure they’ll get that joke here. Or jewelry box? Check box? Let me know what you think.
After try outs, (and shower) I went out to celebrate. I wanted a steak dinner. Sunday night is apparently ‘stay at home’ time in Melboure. All of the Restaurants were closed. It was 9 PM. This made me homesick a little. I wanted to walk around the corner to Prune and get the great buttery steaks they serve at the bar 7 days a week until 1 AM. Instead, I went to the Westin which did have a restaurant still open. I had some steak and now I am going to sleep.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
I didn’t see the black swans on the Yarra this time. I did see several pairs of ducks, but these ducks were different than mallards I’ve seen in the US in that they had very small bills. This made them irresistibly cute. I recommend immediate bill reductions for all American ducks. There were also many crew teams out training on the Yarra. Watching them row, I came up with a new idiom for the useless and counter-productive: heavy coxswain. Give that a shot at work. “The new temp is a real heavy coxswain.”
Speaking of idioms, I’ve been getting a lot of requests to share any new Australian slang I’ve picked up. I haven’t heard too much yet. The slang I have heard is all of the same variety: Take any word, lop off all but the first syllable and add a Y. You might think this is just baby talk, but adverts for insect repellent promise to keep “mozzies” at bay. Soup kitchens implore the public to consider becoming a “vollie”. It’s odd.
After my run, Mom & Dad called to tell me about the freezing weather in Maryland and confirm my enthusiasm for Melbourne.
After that, I spent the day exploring. I had lunch and a coffee at an outdoor café near my hotel. Then I took the tram (an unlimited ride day-pass for all trams, trains and buses is A$6) to Faulkner park where tryouts for Team Box will be tomorrow. I wanted to make sure I could find it okay and see how long it took to get there from my hotel (20 minutes). While in the park I watched a cricket match for a while. I bought a lemonade from a stand and the proprietor asked if I was having a nice day. I commented on the gorgeous weather (sunny, breezy, 75F/25C). He shrugged and said, “Sure, except for the humidity.” There was basically no humidity. This wasn’t the first person in Melbourne I’d heard complain about the non-existent humidity. Maybe it is some kind of code. All I know is that they wouldn’t survive a day in Washington DC.
I left the park and hopped back on the tram to head out to St. Kilda beach. The St. Kilda area was full of chic looking café’s bars and restaurants. I walked out on the St. Kilda pier and admired the waves. There were wind surfers and para-sailors. It would have been a really nice bike ride. (I miss Deirdre, my 12 speed Schwinn Dad gave me for my 13th birthday. She is on the way over.) I found a place where you can take a tour by ferry to see the penguins!!! (I will go back to do that soon. I like penguins. The tour is only at sunset and I didn’t want to stick around until 8 PM.) There were some bands playing outside near the pier for some kind of festival. !!! is coming in a few weeks. I’ll go see them again.
The houses that line the streets’ in St. Kilda have elaborate gardens and wrought iron terraces that remind me of the French quarter in New Orleans; really gorgeous places. I stopped in a causal wine bar to read the paper for a while and have a glass of white wine from the Yarra wine country (north east of Melbourne.) I’m sure I’ll spend more time in St. Kilda.
I headed out to get back on the tram. At the St. Kilda Junction tram underpass I saw a huge collection of incredible graffiti. I’ll go back with my camera. Top notch work. Worth the trip on its own. Sadly the tram came and I quit admiring the work. I took the tram back into the CBD and headed to the Melbourne Aquarium.
The Aquarium was impressive. They have a large shark tank. There was also large tank of seahorses, which are my favorite animal, and I watched them for a while. It reminded me of the Chattanooga Aquarium exhibit I saw when I was in Tennessee for Paige and Marc’s wedding. My favorite exhibit today however, was a series of tanks of jelly fish. They were pulsing hypnotically in what I would have sworn was choreographed formations. It was beautiful.
I left the aquarium and picked up some take away sushi for dinner on my way home. Irony? Suggestion?
Now I’m back in the hotel recharging for a little bit. My plan for tonight is to head out to the Crown Casino and look for poker tables. Wish me luck.
Friday, February 9, 2007
Places here are very nice. I guess living in New York has lowered my expectations for apartments. I never thought I could like an apartment better than 29. It’s a good thing 29 can’t read because she would be crying. The jury is still out on whether or not Drew can read, but if he can, eat your heart out, Drew.
The whole experience was the opposite of apartment shopping in NYC. My housing consultant (Lynda – a nice mom with teenage sons) drove to my hotel and picked me up. She then proceeded to show me one fantastic, incredible place after another. They are all 2 bedroom, 2 bath spacious palaces with washer/dryers and tons of storage and modern kitchens. I almost insisted on taking the first place she showed me because I was so blown away. Lynda convinced me to look at a few others and assured me that one would be open for a while.
(In NYC you put down a down payment when you see a place or you lose it. When I got 29 it was literally a sprint. There was an open house craig’s list posting. I walked into the place at 8:45 am for a 9 am open house and agreed to take it at the same time some else did. The broker said the first person to come back with $500 cash could have it. I took off and so did the other guy, racing down the 5 floor walk up. I beat him back to 29 by about 30 seconds.)
The first place Lynda showed me was two tram stops outside of the city, and very near where I have been running each morning. It overlooked the park. All of the other places she showed me were right downtown in what they call the CBD (central business district). They were all great and my happy dilemma was how to choose. The one I eventually settled on is a short walk to work and was very modernly furnished. It’s near a lot of restaurants and shops and a dry cleaners. (I’ll post photos as soon as I can. I foolishly shipped the cord that connects my camera to my laptop, so photos are still a few weeks out, unfortunately.) Anyway, the new place is huge, has walk-in closets and is very convenient to everything. I’ll probably move in two weeks or so. I’ve never had a guest room before, so I’m all set for entertaining now. Let me know when you are coming to Melbourne.
On the work front, I am still formalizing the expectations for my role and getting up to speed. I did finally get a door pass today, so that’s a start. I have been learning all the new jargon. One variation here is that instead of building a business case, they use the term build a “business justification” which is unfortunately abbreviated to BJ. Some quotes from a meeting I attended today include, “That work can’t even begin until Gary gets a BJ.” “Carol is working on the BJ, but it is not finished yet.”
I am really looking forward to tomorrow, since my last Saturday both began and ended on an airplane and I could really use one on the ground.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
A quick note (mainly for my less blogging enthused friends and family) about the comments, which I shamelessly beg for and relish upon receipt like a schnauzer for bacon: It’s great if you have or want a blogger ID, however if you don’t, you can still leave comments. Make sure you choose the ‘Anonymous’ option (you can still leave your name if you want, but you aren’t forced to log in.) Thanks for everyone who’s let me know they are reading.
Unfortunately, now that I’ve established a loyal readership I find I don’t have much to report. I think I’ll have to scale back from daily to weekly soon, just so I have some updates to include.
Day 5 was suspiciously like 4 & 3. I went on a different run to Melbourne University (instead of the Royal Botanical Garden) which went fine. Melbourne is a heavily treed city which is nice. Run. Work. Repeat. My exotic international lifestyle is up to full speed now. One accomplishment I can report is my opening an Australian bank account. (My bank rep was maybe the most polite and friendly person I’ve ever met.) I’m official now. Let the money laundering schemes begin.
Back at Georgetown, I did a radio show on WGTB called Rap Presence with Terrence Mylonis. Blame me for the name, not Terrence. I seem to recall some FCC rules about stalling and repetition and boring people. Good thing that does not apply to blogging, cos I’m fresh out of ‘Courtney in Melbourne’ updates for today.
One last tidbit is that a popular car here in Melbourne seems to be some resurrection of an El Camino called “Thunder”. Do look at the pic. The ones I’ve seen so far have been in subtle colors like orange and the same shade of neon yellow as that Mustang rental I wrecked at UNC hospital.
In lieu of further updates I’ll give you a quick take on my view of a couple of current news stories as I’ve digested them from CNN international:
Can someone explain to me what is so offensive about the Snickers Ads? Two morons accidentally kiss and then respond in a homophobic way by drinking motor oil and pulling out their chest hair. The message seems to be that homophobia is moronic. I’m fine with that.
Also these two: My take on this ‘romantic’ find is that this couple probably died chocking each other. I guess it’s more likely she was put in his grave because he died and he got to take his property with him to the next realm. Take that, Hallmark. (My remote, amateur archeology expertise is in full swing.)
Today’s foreshadowing: Tomorrow I’m going with my ‘housing consultant’ to look at some apartments. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Oh, you have a few more minutes… Well here you go:
Today I went for a run, went to a bunch of meetings, read a bunch of business documents, ate good Chinese and very good Indian samosas and read some documents, in mostly, but not exactly, that order. The day went fine.
Mother wanted me to explicitly state that I am still in the hotel and have not found my apartment yet. Go ahead and operate under that assumption until I tell you otherwise. You’ll be the first to know when I get in my place.
Speaking of still being in the hotel, I’ve done a fair amount of living in hotels. I lived in a Sheraton in St. Louis for 8 months with Jack Sepple, Kimberly and Ivy. I lived in a Candlewood Suites in DULLes for 2 years that was a total dump. Based on my experience, tipping the housekeeping staff well is the difference between extra chocolates on my pillow and finding my toothbrush in the toilet. With that in mind, I’ve been leaving tips in my room, but housekeeping hasn’t picked them up. First I left them by the sink (my usual spot), then on my bed side table. Max, can you help a sister out with some tips from the hotel industry? What am I supposed to do here?
J-Christ, can you send me a link for the pics you took at my going away gathering? I need some evidence to confirm that I did, in fact, go away. (Thanks to Allison for sending me her snapshots, but I need to corroborate that story.)
On Sunday I’m trying out for a Women’s team here in Melbourne that apparently Andy Samberg named: Team Box. (One: Go get a box). I’m a little concerned, in that practice is on Sundays from 4-6 PM. Uh… Okay. When are the other 12 hours of practice? What I am supposed to do with the rest of my weekend, get some kind of “life”? Not interested. I’ll let you know how tryouts go.
Now for even more foreshadowing: There is a casino here, right downtown. I may see if they have a poker table this weekend. I’m also thinking of checking out the aquarium. Sarah, there’s a ton of art museums here too. I’ll hold off on those until you come here to visit and drag me from exhibit to exhibit explaining how you’ve seen the same installation in Helsinki and Barcelona. ;)
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
I’m trying to make jet-lag work for me. I’ve been getting up early and working out and spending some time online before going to work, and then trying to go to bed early. Only I could get up at 5 AM and nearly be late for a 9 AM meeting. I am a world-class dawdler. I was thinking, I have four hours to kill all morning and stretching and cooling down slowly and checking my e-mail.
I started the day with another great run. Today, I ran around the Royal Botanical Garden, which was beautiful. Supposedly, they are on water restriction here for a drought but I’m not sure it could have looked more lush. I was running with my tiny iPod shuffle that Emily gave the team for Christmas (thanks Emily!). I have named my shuffle Nelson De la Rosa. I was listening to Matisyahu. (Maybe you were too Mara?) Melbourne is a great place to play plus/minus. I think I am up +50 after only two runs. I also think that the one woman who passed me looked like she had an American stride. The running paths are sand, so I’m sure that is good for my knees and back.
My second day of work went pretty well. I met even more people and attended 4 pretty informative meetings. I’ll meet the person I actually report to for the first time on a call on Thursday. Until then I’m just trying to get up to speed.
I went to the Accenture office briefly today, which is about a block from my hotel and pretty close to all the Telstra buildings. I bumped in to Elaine Beeman (who I worked for at AOL) on the 18th floor. She looked great. It was really nice to see a familiar face.
As promised, the ‘hook right’ (incredible animation, please check this out) is a driving maneuver which is practiced only in Melbourne. Even other Australians think it is nuts. Remember, they drive on the left side of the road here. In Melbourne, if they want to make a right turn, they pull all the way over to the furthest left lane, and then cross back across all the lanes to make the turn. Dad, when you guys come visit you will have to rent a car so that you can attempt this maneuver. Perhaps you can even institute it back in Maryland. I think it will be a huge hit and I'd love to hear you explain it to the traffic police. I recommend everyone give it a shot at home. Let me know how it works out for you.
Thanks to everyone who’s left a comment. They totally make my day.
Monday, February 5, 2007
Fantasy fun camp was put on hold shortly thereafter when I started work. First days on projects are all the same. You don’t have a badge. You don’t have a log in. You don’t have a phone. You hear tons of new jargon and acronyms. You learn that the role as it was described to you is nothing like the role you will perform. You get locked in the elevator. You get locked out of the bathroom. (Anyway, that’s what my first days are like.) Everyone I met seems great. The role seems pretty complex. I am hoping I can fake it until I figure it out. More on my role and work once I figure out what the hell is going on. (Expect an update in this in ~ 3 months.)
I have a lot more to tell you, but a ton of work to do as well, so I leave a couple of cliffhangers to keep you coming back: In future posts I’ll be detailing my plans to try out for a Women’s ultimate team here and also explaining a distinctive regional driving maneuver that I’m sure Mad Mike will enjoy.
Sunday, February 4, 2007
My hotel room is fantastic. It’s very modern and gets a ton of light and has lots of space. It’s about 4 times the size of my NYC apartment. I even, for the first time in my life, have my very own washer-dryer. It’s one of the dual washer/dryer in one unit deals that I see more often in Europe. I did a load of wash of the stuff I wore on the flight just because I could. This is the life.
One interesting detail about my hotel room is that there is no shower curtain. There is just a shower and a drain in the middle of the bathroom floor. It’s pretty impossible not to fill the entire bathroom with water. 6 hours later there are still puddles all over the bathroom floor because it isn’t graded well enough to drain. I’m wondering if I could be the one to introduce the concept of the shower curtain here. I will take all the credit for inventing them. I’ll be a hero, just like Jonas Salk.
After showering and unpacking I walked around town a little. My hotel is downtown in a retail district. It’s sandwiched between a Ben Sherman store and an Indian restaurant where I got some takeaway lunch (since my flight has conditioned me to eat a full meal every 3 hours or so). I timed my walk to work and it’s about 15 minutes (though a safe, well-populated area, Mom). There’s a lot of high end retail on my route to work so I did a little shopping. (Shockingly, it seems I have not entirely left my consumer lifestyle in New York City.) Prices seem really high here. I saw a cute pair of Campers but they were A$250. That seems strange as I think they would have been about $100 US in NYC or €30 in Madrid. I refrained (for today). Maybe Melbourne is like Dublin or something where all clothes just cost about twice what you would think.
I also went to a store called Big W to buy a hair dryer. It was great. It is just like a Big K and has everything so I am not worried about finding anything I need here. I am curious about the swap of the W for the K. I’m wondering if I should also keep an eye out for Wraft macaroni and cheese or Wleenex. (I also found a 24 x 7 grocery, which I’m sure will come in handy for all my cooking needs ;) .)
On my route-timing trip for work I noticed that there are a number of well-signed public toilets. As most of you know I’m a strong believer that toilets are basic human right. (Finding a toilet in NYC can be a real challenge and I think we’ve all bought the cheapest possible thing on the menu at one point or another to meet the ‘restrooms are for customers only’ standard. “Can I buy a packet of ketchup?”) I can’t imagine that I’ll ever need to use a public toilet on the 15 minute walk from my hotel to work, but just knowing they are there makes me feel at ease. I think Melbourne and I are going to get along just fine.
On my work route there is a Maker’s Mark store. Can you imagine my excitement upon seeing this entire store dedicated to Maker’s Mark? Well double it, and turn it into disappointment because here in Australia, Maker’s Mark is apparently some kind of vase and glass jewelry dealer. What a low down dirty trick. I wouldn’t have been more disappointed if I walked in to a store named “Toy Store” that only sold dental floss.
I got a new prepaid phone with a sim card. If you want to call me, send me an e-mail and I’ll send you the number. While I was waiting for my phone to charge, I watched a Melbourne Tigers Basketball game on TV. They slaughtered the Adelaide 36ers! (Move over Knicks city dancers and check out the Tiger’s halftime show the Dodo Dancers.) I am now a huge fan. My favorite player is Tom Greer who was recruited from basketball powerhouse Southeastern Florida University. Scoffers might have said he’d never play pro-ball, but little did they know he’s be a big star in Melbourne one day. I’ll let you know when I get tickets.
Now I’m planning to go for a run and then get ready for bed. First day of work is tomorrow. I’ll let you know how that goes. I’ll post some pictures in a while. I brought my camera but I’m pretty sure I shipped the cord that allows me to download photos, so it may be a couple of weeks before I have anything to share. Fill yourselves with expectation and make do with bonus links in the meantime!
On the flight from LAX to Sydney there was a guy in the row behind me that had some kind of night terrors. When he fell asleep he would start moaning loudly and then screaming names in a pleading manner. It was disconcerting and made me wonder if he had some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder. The guy sitting next to him would wake him up and this would repeat every 20 minutes or so. I sat next to a sweet little old lady who demanded wine and a cocktail at every meal, even breakfast (Drew’s grandmother probably). She ate her croissant with a vodka tonic and a glass of chardonnay. She never seemed too lit up though... After landing in Melbourne I got my bags, went through customs and got a taxi to my hotel downtown. The trip was pretty much painless.
Yes, I know the name is a little nerdy. So am I. Why try to hide it? This blog is to stay in touch with people back in the states while I’m in Melbourne, Australia on a work assignment. This’ll save you from mass e-mail updates. This way, you can check in whenever you want, once a week or once a year. I’m sure my mom will be checking the blog at least hourly for updates. I’ll try to update every few days. We’ll see how that goes depending on how much free time I have. Direct contact is always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org if you prefer individual communication.