Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I’m actually going to miss the Ohio State game on Saturday. I’ll be far from any TVs or internet. Maybe Jesse will txt me the score again. Why? This weekend is a training weekend away for Team Box. I am not actually sure where we are going yet, but I am going to some teammate’s family’s country house. I know they have a goat. I am sure it will be awesome. We are going to practice hard to get ready for Nationals. We are also going to goof off and hang out. I am really looking forward to it. I will try to take some pictures.
Sorry I have been posting less frequently. Things are NUTS at work. Totally nuts. Any day I don’t post, just imagine a post like this: “Got to work today at 8 AM. Booked solid in meetings from 9-7 PM. Missed lunch. Ate “dinner” from the candy box around 9:30. Left work at Midnight.” Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I am very tired.
I think I get a day off for Easter soon and I am really looking forward to that to catch up on sleep and all the e-mails I owe everyone. I apologize for not writing back.
Thanks for the post cards from Kim (Brooklyn) & J. Christ (Argentina). Okay, must sleep. Later.
Oh yeah, and be sure to start your countdown until war with Iran. My only question is if GYWO (http://www.mnftiu.cc/mnftiu.cc/war62.html) will start a second strip, or if the war in Iran will have to share.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Nonetheless, I knew this weekend was the change for Daylight savings time. Saturday night I dutifully chanted "Spring forward, Fall back" while I went through 301, chaing my clocks from Midnight to 1 AM. Alarm clock, kitchen clock, cell phone, etc.
Today I got to Team Box practice at 12:30. No one was there. I was early. Two hours early. That's right. I went the wrong way. Since they are getting ready for autum here, I should have fallen back from midnight to 11 PM. Instead, I sprung forward, so I was two hours off for practice today. Go me.
Signing off now, your faithful (ever confused) Courtneyspondent.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
This week was busy at work and I didn’t do much more than work and go to Team Box practice on Thursday night. Practice was okay, we played 500, which I am terrible at and some 4 on 4 and then went out for beers. It was a good time.
On Friday I called my sister from work when I had a lucky meeting cancellation. Lindy has been sick and they have a septic system overhaul underway but I think they will all be okay. I am reminded that my vows to never own a home or breed are wise.
This morning I got up early and headed over to the Crown casino to try to see the Hoyas game. Tip off was 7:27 PM Friday east coast time, so 10:27 AM Saturday morning here. I was in the casino hoping that the sports book would help me out. No dice. They were showing horse racing, last nights women’s springboard diving and the Miami Heat down by 20 to the Indiana Pacers. Great. I went home to watch ESPN gamecast refresh every 30 seconds and my Mom called with play by play. Just as well that I wasn’t watching the game, it would have been too much for me. Georgetown trailed most of the game and was down 1 with 7 seconds to go. They won it at the buzzer with a 2 point jumper. Next up UNC. Look out!
I spent the rest of the day running around the royal botanical garden and running errands and such is the thrilling, non-stop action life of a world traveler such as myself. I got the dry cleaning.
Now, I am exhausted and I am going back to sleep.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
My bracket is in a total shambles. I haven’t been following NCAA BB this year. I have been in Australia. Have I mentioned that? I decided when I filled out my bracket to base it entirely on heart and allegiance. Genetically, I have Holy Cross winning two games and Louisville and U of K (Kentucky) in the elite 8. Of course, follow the logic, I have Georgetown winning it all.
The Yahoo! league I set up with all these Australians in it… (They are asking me things like what does Villanova Mean? “That’s a Native American term for flopping to get offensive foul calls… Syracuse means ‘soft schedule’.”) I’m dead last in the league. Dead last. They all picked on team color and mascot and I am last. Also I have not seen a single game yet, and that takes some of the fun out of March Madness.
Special to my extended family; Look. I’m sorry about the U of K loss to KU. We all are. Tubby has to go and by all reports will go. All we can do now is pull together and will the Hoyas to a win. I know you are with me.
Work is totally nuts. I am working late 6 nights a week. This seems unpleasantly familiar. Boo. I will have to work on some kind of mediation strategy but right now I am too busy.
Taco Night (pictured above) was fantastic. I had the team for tacos, nachos, and margaritas. We had a great time. There was a good turnout. (Joy, Liz, Hussey, Jess and Steven, Chris, Jillaine, Dr. Box (sarah) and of course Mel Jackson. Joy's sister Eshter was there as well.) The picture above is taken after the tacos are long gone and the 3rd pitcher of margaritas is running low. Afterwards we went out to a bunch of bars. We went dancing at a place near my apartment creatively named, “Lounge”. I started to get a little tired so I said goodbye to the girls and headed out. I could not believe it when I got outside and the sun was up. It was 8:30 by the time I got home, I needed huevos rancheros but I just went to sleep. Tequila! After that I went to practice on Sunday. Total Disaster!
I can’t find the food here that is just how I like it yet. It’s all okay, but just not exactly how I like it. That is really getting old. I am running out of my, “it’s fun to try new things” mood and I really want something to be just how I want it to be, and not have hidden pumpkin or sultanas, the official ingredients of all food here.
Adding to my food home sickness, is that the Gastronauts just had the one year birthday celebration without me. They went back to Su San for live seafood. There is a great new video on the site of the live octopus moments before being consumed.
I have to run. More on the weekend perhaps. Miss you. Send me some mail. Seriously.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! There is a ton going on right now and I have no time to blog. Work is double plus nutso but that’s boring. There is a grand prix on in Melbourne this weekend, a big formula 1 race. There is also the world swimming championships. They have plenty of pools here but for some reason they turned the Rod Laver tennis center into a pool. It is a little odd. I want to go see the water polo.
I started a March madness pool for the flummoxed Australians I work with. There are 11 of us. I am in last place. Go Hoyas.
I am having team box over tonight for Tacos. You know how I love to cook. Wish me luck.
I went this morning to get the roots on my low-lites done. I am so mad. They never listen to you, those beauty girls, and they are so intimidating. She totally screwed up my hair and charged me a ton for it. I think she was going for strawberry blonde (why I don’t know) but it is basically pink and looks very ugly. Thanks beauty salon. I might just cut the bleached hair out.
One quick story: The AFL is about to start here (Australian Football League). The cup for preseason championship is tonight. AFL is huge here (bigger than NFL for us). Everyone is a fan. I am trying to pick a team. I have been using this as small talk at work. I’ve been asking everyone “Which AFL team they root for”. I was getting some strange looks. I’d try to be more specific, “Do you root for the St. Klida Saints, or the Richmond Tigers?” About a week into this someone from Team Box told me that they use “root” a little differently here. It’s slang, on the vulgar side. I’ll just say that JF Kennedy was rumored to have rooted Marilyn Monroe, if you get my drift. So when I was asking all my colleagues who they “root for” I was asking something else entirely. Go me. Apparently the phrase here is to “go for” a team and I’m planning to “go for” the Richmond Tigers.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
My flight back to Melbourne was at 5:00 PM on Monday, since Monday was Labor Day in Victoria and I had the day off from work. (In some ways, Australia is more federated than the US and many of the holidays are not public holidays. Labor Day in Sydney is some other date. Most of the country did not have a holiday.) So I had about 21 hours to explore Tassie before returning to Hobart for my flight back to Melbourne on Virgin Blue.
I had spent a couple of hours looking at a Tasmania Atlas and asking Tassie locals at the tournament what to do with my extra day. The island is basically the size of Ireland. It is about 1/3rd national parks. Obviously, I couldn’t see everything. I decided to focus on the east coast of the Island and go see the resort town of Biecheno and Freycinet National Park with picturesque Wineglass bay.
Looking at my atlas, Biecheno was an easy 2 hours on Tassie’s biggest expressway, the Tasman highway, and one of the largest cities on the island. I decided to do the drive that night at 9 PM, so I could get up and have a decent day of site-seeing before having to head back at 3 for my flight. I didn’t have a reservation anywhere, but I planned to find a hotel once I got to town. (Foreshadowing implemented.)
Chanting my driving mantra "Stay on the left! Stay on the left!" (to the tune of 3 blind mice) I exited the airport parking lot and got on the Tasman Highway. About 2 km from the airport the Tasman highway went to 2 lanes and had no street lights. This was not the easy highway drive I was expecting. The road was narrow and winding. Tasmania is filled with suicidal, kamikaze Possums. They are cute and have stripes and remind me of cats. Their carcasses lined the highway. I had to swerve to avoid them every few minutes. I was pretty stressful, but in the end I made it without taking any lives human or marsupial.
The drive took me longer than I thought and I pulled into booming Biecheno just before 12. The town had 1 street light and no traffic lights. There were some bed and breakfasts, (dark and locked up tight) but not the Holiday Inn or Ramada I was expecting. Dorothy, we are not in Kansas any more. There were no humans anywhere. I rang the night bell at a couple of places to no avail. I remembered Mike Kellyism #428: “If you ever have the choice between sleeping in a car and sleeping in a tent, sleep in the car.” I didn’t have a choice, but the endorsement made me feel a little better. I was starting to question the genius of this plan and I was jealous of my teammates who were back in Melbourne by now. I parked in a parking lot for beach access and reclined my driver's seat.
I was pretty tired and I slept okay. One thing about sleeping in a car, you have low incentive to sleep in, so I was able to get up early and get in a pretty full day. Maybe I should try sleeping in uncomfortable places at home. I saw a beautiful sunrise on the shore if Biecheno and hunted in some tide pools. On seeing the sunrise, I no longer regretted not flying home on Sunday, or staying in Hobart and driving up in the morning. It was very peaceful and beautiful. (I’ll post pcis of all this on Flickr soon. I took 33 photos.)
Getting hungry, I decided to check out the local cafes to see if there were any good hearty breakfasts to be had. The Australians think about holidays a little differently than we do. All the café’s in town had signs that read something to the effect of, “Closed Monday for Labor Day.” Oh.
Luckily, I still had some of my own tournament food, since the tournament had provided so much. I ate some almonds and a power bar and got back in the car headed towards Freycinet National Park. With the sun up, the driving was much easier and the landscape was truly impressive. I was about 20 minutes from the Park.
At the park by 8 AM, I got a map and headed to the Wine Glass Bay hike. It’s a 3K hike that takes you up and over a hill on the way to the beach. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this. On the way I saw colorful birds I have never seen before. I saw a kangaroo. (I was really excited about this until I saw more in the parking lot later, hoping for tourists to feed them and realized this was not such a rare occurrence. Still, he was pretty cute.) On the hike to the beach there is a good lookout to take pictures. The bay gets its name from being the best sand to make wine glasses out of. That is a lie. Of course, it is the 'distinctive shape of the bay'. The lookout was breathtaking. The beach was beautiful and serine. The most beautiful place I have ever been is Calebra in Puerto Rico, this beach rivaled that one, and got extra credit for its remoteness.
[Lynn, I got you a shell. It is a big cat’s eye. I also found a nice olive, but there was a hermit living in there, so I had to let him go. I also got some little shells that are like limpets, but a little flatter.] After a while on the beach I did the return hike to my car.
By the time I was on my way back from the beach, the trail was filling up and the trip would have been ruined by the voices of other hikers. Once again, glad for the early start. Next I checked out some other highlights of the park, like the immense Oyster Bay and Honeymoon Bay. Both were really great. I’m running out of exhalations here, but it was a wonderful place and a perfect day.
Around 1 PM I left the park craving some real food. I found a nice café just off Oyster Bay that serves the fresh catch of the day. The place was adorable and filled with locals. I had a huge portion of spicy seafood chowder. I finished lunch around 2 and took my time on a leisurely drive back to Hobart. The ocean was on my left the entire drive and the views were spectacular. I stopped a couple times to see more great beaches.
I was psyched to get back to the Airport and return to Melbourne, but I was sad to leave Tassie after just one day of real site seeing. If I had the time, I happily could have spent two weeks on that island. Maybe I'll go back, but I have a feeling there are a lot of places here that I'll enjoy seeing.
Monday, March 12, 2007
You can check out some results from the weekend here and more will be here soon.
The tournament was great. The fields were nice, lined, grassy fields. The games were on-time and fair. There was a lot of great, free food provided. The fields were a 50 meter walk from the shoreline of Hobart bay, which is incredibly beautiful. The weather was perfect on Saturday with wind picking up on Sunday.
We had a great weekend. Everyone played hard and fair and well and got along well and had a wonderful time. On Saturday we played four games, of increasing difficulty. We started off with a nice warm-up against a team from South Australia. We rolled them. Then we played a new, inexperienced but very talented team from Tasmania in the battle of the vulgar slang: Team Box vs. Bush. ("Bush" is the term Aussies use for wildlife. A weekend of camping/hiking is a weekend "in the bush".) It was very strange for me to hear a group of women yelling "Go Bush!" and for me to not join in. I did accidentally cheer for them a couple of times, but we won the game anyway. Next we had a great tourney provided lunch.
For the last game of the day we played Ishtar. The tournament format for the 5 entrants was a round-robin. We were the only team not to have a bye on Saturday. As we warmed up for our fourth game, we were clearly feeling it. We ended up beating Ishtar soundly (11 to 2 or 3) but the points were long and ugly and we weren't running our offense as well as we had earlier in the day. After that game we had a nice team dinner at a Thai/Vietnamese place and went to the tournament party, which was pretty typical, except for the fact that we lost one of our juniors and didn't get her back until the next morning. She was fine.
On Sunday morning the other teams had their last round-robin game and we had a bye. Because we won all the games, we also had a bye in to the Final, so we played one game at 4 PM. We slept late, went out for breakfast and had a nice long warm-up and worked on some new defenses. The final was against Honey again. The game was very windy and both teams were playing a lot of zone. We played a lot of 1-3-3 which they call "puppy-fence" here without a hint of a smile. We were trading points in the first half, but stepped it up to take half 8-7 and never let up after that. We won at the cap 11-8 again.
This makes us the #1 seed for nationals in April. Look out! (Last year's champions are not returning and last year's runner up is Ishtar, which is why we get the #1 seed.)
I played pretty well all weekend and threw and caught some goals. As always, I had the most fun playing D as I was assigned to 'assassinate' a player on the opposing team and got some big stops.
The victory was followed by a celebration. We went out for some vegetarian Indian dinner which was quite good except for the bit about Joy (one of the captains) wearing most of her curry home on the plane courtesy of a clumsy waitress. After dinner there was a typical mad dash to the airport, made more exciting by the wrong side of the road for me. After I dropped the team off I started my Tasmanian exploration. More on that soon. I'm tired. I'll get the pictures up on flickr soon.
Note: Tho Hoyas won the Big East Tourney as well, so all my teams had a good weekend. Look for them to stay in a loooong time when you fill out your bracket.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
I had the best night in Melbourne yet last night. I hung out with an awesome girl from TeamBox and her boyfriend. Jess is a Physics PHD with sic speed who makes a lot of our long cuts. She showed me a bar close to 301 called Hell's Kitchen which made me feel at home. The bar has Cooper's Pale Ale on tap and is a close to a dive bar as Melbourne can afford.
Then we swung by 301 where she suggested letting the air out of the front wheel and pumping it back up, which saved the day and allowed me to put the front wheel back on. Apparently all you need to reassemble a bike is a Physics PHD. Maybe I would have studied harder if I'd known that.
Then we went out to dinner at a great Tapas place also about 1 minute from my apartment. We were joined by her boyfriend who is Luc Longely's cousin. No joke. The Tapas was great and then he showed us one more great little open air bar on one of Melbourne's many 'little street' alleys. I'll be heading back to all three places when I have a little more time.
Tonight is Team Box Practice and packing for Tasmania. I'll be flying out Friday after work and back Monday evening as Monday is the end of summer Labor Day holiday here. I'll be checking out Tassie (as it is called by Australians) for an extra day after the tourney. I have 1 day to explore an Island the size of Ireland. I'll let you know how it goes.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Tim? Jesse? Marc?
This space is too narrow to fit a bike tire through. I need to open it some how. The front brake is connected to the wire off my left handlebar.
I still love my apartment, but I have developed some minor complaints. I hate my pillows. Is there anything worse than a down pillow? I guess these are a hold over from when feathers were all they had to stuff pillows with. Feathers are better than pebbles and sticks, but only marginally. Down pillows are all fluffed up when sitting idly, but as soon as you put your head on one they flatten completely. Since my primary use for the pillow involves it being under my head, a down pillow is about as good as no pillow at all. I will be pillow shopping for a non-crap pillow once I have some time.
They do things a little different here in Australia. Nationals is Sunday April 22-Wendesday April 25. That’s right. A big Wednesday final. Climactic. Sure. Nationals is actually in Melbourne so I won’t have to/get to travel for that. One thing at a time, though. I’m focused on Regionals this weekend in Tasmania. I am very excited. I will try to take and post some photos.
One thing that isn’t different here in Melbourne is that I always seem to live just a couple of blocks from a Hari Krishna temple. 29 is on 2nd Ave at 6th street and there is a Hari temple at 2nd and 4th. Here, 301 is on Flinders Lane between Swanston and Elizabeth and the Hari temple is around the corner on Swanston. Maybe there is just a Hari temple every few blocks everywhere in the world. I guess it’s a reassuring consistency. I’d like to be for those guys. I really would. They always seem peaceful and happy as they sing. Too bad their world view just as wack as every other religion and they are so devoted there’s not much else to talk to them about. I recommend trying to have a conversation with a Hari about sports. Total waste of time. Also, the Hari’s always seem really young. What happens to the old Haris? I love that case study from Oliver Sacks about the guy who is worshipped by his Hari temple as supremely sublime but the indications of his sublime state (quiet, still, serene, goes blind) are all actually caused by a large brain tumor. They are on to something about the chanting though. Chanting is good for you and totally makes the boring meeting go by faster. Right now I am chanting the 3 minute rule.
Monday, March 5, 2007
(Work was very busy today. Typical Monday. It was a gorgeous day in Melbourne.)
Saturday, March 3, 2007
A gargoyle you can see from my window. He is always staring at me. I am trying my best to keep him entertained.
Do not be concerned. All is well. I had Team Box practice on Thursday and afterwards we went to a great casual bar with an open courtyard for a few beers. They were serving gourmet pizzas for A$4. I think that place will be a regular post-practice stop.
On Friday after work I went out for Korean barbeque. I was pretty amped since I love Korean barbeque at home and I figured this would be even better because we are so much closer to Korea. It was just okay. I’d probably say most of the places on the West 30s at home are better. I was especially disappointed that while the menu listed both O.B. and Hite the only beer they actually had was Heineken.
Today (Saturday). I went for a run, had some brunch, did some shopping, did more unpacking and did some work. On my run, I ran down the Yarra on my way home. I thought I saw some plastic bags floating in the river. As I got closer, it looked like the bags were swimming, which is atypical, even in Australia. Upon closer inspection I realized that they were jelly fish about the size of grapefruit, tons of them. I’ve never seen jelly fish in a river before, so I found this pretty odd. I had never considered jumping in the Yarra before, but now I am fully deterred.
Sunday Team Box is scrimmaging against the two other women’s teams in town. That should be really fun and I am looking forward to it. This is our last weekend practice prior to Regionals in Tasmania next weekend. I can’t wait to have a tournament weekend and to spend some time seeing more of Australia.
I have just a few minutes here to post some of the photos I took of my apartment. Hopefully the cliché will hold true and these will count for thousands of words. Have a great weekend.
My living room/den:
Note Deirdre still in pieces in the background. :(