Friday, June 29, 2007

nightswimming of the indoor variety

Abbey is home from her surgery. Mom has called dutifully with updates. Abbey seems to be having a bit of a tough time, but I am really hoping that she starts to feel better over the next week. I think what bothers me most is that we can't explain to her what is happening. She probably thinks we took her to the vet and that's why her leg hurts now. It's so odd that Ali's dog, Paige's dog and Abbey have all had ACL tears over the last couple years. Could this somehow be getting more common? I don't remember this happening when I was younger.

A big congrats to Ambush for winning the Easterns division at the Boston Invite. Way to start the season with a trophy! I miss you guys.

Things here have been pretty slow. This week involved some work. (Thrilling, I know.) Some making dinner. Some going out to dinner and a happy hour. You may suspect I am trying to lull you to sleep. Stay with me.

I went to the Melbourne public baths after work on Wednesday. It's 5 dollars in and another $2 for a locker. It's open until 10 PM so I can go after work. There is a nice 50 meter pool with 4 lanes: 2 slow, a medium and a fast. I am slow. It was never too crowded at the pool and there were never more than 3 to a lane. I was pretty scared about the whole ordeal, but I did okay. I'd never tried to work out in a pool before by swimming. I think I was last in a pool for deep water running. I last had swimming lessons at the age of 6 or so. I didn't know pool protocol. When do you put your swim cap on? How do you keep your goggles from fogging up? Is a flip turn mandatory? (My guesses: After you get in your lane and get you hair wet, no idea! and no, you can just turn around).

I was in the pool for about an hour. I can swim breast stoke without attracting too much attention. I swam 6 300s, which is about as far as I can swim in one go without getting quite tired. Freestyle is a much bigger problem. I cannot really do it. I flail around a lot and splash much more than the other humans. Do you kick on top of the water or just below? I cannot get the arms right. I cannot get enough air. I could only swim a 100 free at a time. I tried to do 3 laps four or five times, and always had to quit for fear of drowning. To recover I did some laps with the kick board. Swimming is so different than running because I don't know how to swim slowly enough to recover. I will just sink. I have to go to the edge and hang on.

On the upside, my plan of working out w/o hurting my knees seems to have been a guarded success. I'll go back. (I may need a lesson.)

I am watching the Wimbledon on TV in the evenings after work. They pretty much only show Lleyton Hewitt, but I get a general sense of the goings on from that.

Saturday, I went to Geelong to see the Footy at tiny local Skilled stadium. It's about an hour train ride from Melbourne. It was rockin'. Geelong city has a cute little waterfront harbor area with lots of cafes. We had some good pancakes. The stadium was packed with Cats supporters. We stood in the general admission area with the real fans. It rained on us a bit but that only made the experience seem more authentic. The Cats won definitively and we had a great time. I think it would have been a lot less fun if the Cats had lost.

Saturday night after my day trip to Geelong, I went back to the G, this time for a huge Rugby match between the national rugby team, the Wallabies and the dreaded rivals, the New Zealand All Blacks. New Zealand is just abut the only less relevant country than Australia for Australians to pick on so there is a lot of picking on the Kiwi here. The G was packed with 80,000 people or so. There were more New Zealand fans than Australian fans. The game didn't make a ton of sense to me and I don't really know the rules, but I had a good time. Australia narrowly prevailed, which was a major upset. The best thing about the game was the haka before, which is something I had never seen before. The traditional Maori war chant seemed to add a level of menace and severity to the already violent game.

Sunday was practice for the National Ultimate Frisbee League, where each state selects a team and sends the state squad to a small national tourney. I'm playing for VOS (Victoria One Squad). It is good to be playing again. I missed practice the last couple months. We played from 1 to 5 in Albert Park, and despite it being "winter" here it was about 60 degrees out and a gorgeous day. Practice was fun. I learned some new drills and we scrimmaged for several hours. I am working on my long game and got to put it long quite a bit so it was a lot of fun.

Next week could be a lot like this past one: work, Frisbee, swimming. Maybe we can make the blog a little more participatory and choose your own adventure style. I'm open to suggestions. If you want something to turn up in the blog just let me know.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

If I'm not thinking, I'm drinking 'bout you

Hello. What can I tell you? It was a pretty good week. I am feeling a little sluggish and uninspired, but it's probably time for an update so here we go...

Let’s start with the bad news. Another torn ACL: First was J-Christ, then Brenda then Emma and now Abbey. That’s right, my golden retriever tore her ACL. The injury was sustained while playing fetch with my Mom. She’ll have surgery on Tuesday and then rehab, just like a person. I’m sad about this and a bit worried about her. I remember when this happened to Moose (of TMC fame) and it was a tough deal. Moose got better though, at least most of the way. I’m sure my mother will be keeping a close eye on Abbey.

Deirdre is back from the bike vet and better than ever. I just needed a new peddle hyrdacoil. I got her seat raised a bit and rode her to pick-up.

Pick-up on Saturday was a lot of fun. While there, I found a co-ed team to play with here. The seasons are opposite (rather than concurrent as they are in the US) so most club players play both co-ed and open or women’s. I’ll be playing with “Gary” which is based on a core of one of the open team here in Melbourne, the Heads of State. The boys from heads are pretty nice and a very casual group. I don’t expect us to win many games, but we will win the party. “Gary” is a bit of an inside joke, but I’ll probably expose it here in future posts. Stay tuned.

This weekend involved a fair bit of drinking. Jess and I had 5 long necks of Coopers between us at Hell’s Kitchen on Friday after work. On Saturday Jess, Joy, Hussey and I pubcrawled Fitzroy. We approved of the Provincial and Night Cat, and several other places that can now only be hazily recollected. It’s a good part of town. This morning I had brunch at La Citta and had some bloody marys. It’s a good thing I have to go to work tomorrow, I need the detox.

This week’s strangest event was a corporate team outing to watch the movie Office Space. The whole team was there. We were in a Telstra office, showing the movie on an Accenture laptop on a Telstra projector. We had Pizza. The bit about every day at work being the new worst day of his life still paints a poignant for me. It was a queasy dissonance to watch this anthem of rebellion at work with Lumbergs right there all around me. Maybe that’s what necessitated all the drinking noted above.

I also attended another trivia session this week, this time at the Prince of Wales, with Chris and Liz. I didn’t help much, but I did get a question about Jesse Owens right. We came in next to last, which (strangely) wins a prize.

This week’s mailbag: I have an exciting item in the mailbag this week. Thanks to Peanut for sending me a postcard from Budapest. She is in Hungary visiting her family and resting her planter fasciitis.

Peanut was Lindy’s favorite Ambush player for her sic layouts and long “yellow hair”. Lindy, also of the yellow hair turned 5 this weekend. Time flies.

Best of luck to Ambush at the Boston Invitational this weekend. I think this is the first time in 5 years or so I’ve missed that weekend. It’s strange not to be there.

Fellow bloggers: Do you archive independently from Blogger, in the event that it might go down or eat your blog or something? It is free after all. They don’t exactly have a service level agreement to meet. If so, any tips?

And finally, don't think I forgot about you. Here's a few good pranks to keep you entertained:
Oil and Weather.

Monday, June 11, 2007

bX-6bukh banished!

Victory! I've been battling that error message for months. I finally got rid of it, so now when I post comments my photo shows.

This was very helpful:
The key for me was to use the "src=" url NOT the "href
=" or "<img style=" link.

In other news, there was a shooting outside my office today. (Thanks for checking on me Liz & Matthew). I am fine. The shooting was about 5 blocks from where I live and at the corner of the building where I work, but by and entrance I never use. My building, the Rialto Tower was closed for a couple of hours. Shootings are a bigger deal here in Australia because they don't give away guns here in boxes of Cracker Jacks like we do in the states. I got to work at 8 AM or so and entered without trouble by the front entrance. I called my Dad to wish him a Happy Father's Day and then started work. Then, over the loud speaker, building management made several announcements that we should not exit and should stay away from the windows, that the building was closed. Some of the streets downtown where closed most of the day. I didn't see anything and it was a pretty normal day for me, work-wise.

Happy Father's day to my Dad. He is all kitted out now with AFL gear (Go Melbourne Kangaroos!) It's not Father's day here in Australia, they celebrate that in September, so he may just get two this year, like I had two summers.

Another difference, and this is one of my current favorites, is the varied flavors of Doritos here. You know how I love Doritos and I like to eat the entire bag, regardless of the size. They have a flavor of Doritos here that is "Tapas". Tapas flavored Doritos. What does that mean? That's like having a "Snack-Flavored" chip. That could be anything. I haven't tried them yet, but I am assuming that they are magical, a`la Willy Wonka and that whatever Tapas item you imagine is what the chip tastes like.

While I'm going on about differences, just another update on Australian Radio, special for Sarah. There is an exhibit from the Guggenheim coming here to the Melbourne Museum of Art. For about 15 minutes this morning on Australian Broadcast Corporation Radio, the host slagged the Matthew Barney Cremaster films. She talked about how they were pointless and pretentious at the same time and a total waste of energy and her viewing time, then she had an art critic on the program to complain about them as well. This will be the main art show in town for months. I'm pretty sure I remember NPR in the same position oozing adoration at Matthew Barney like that Vaseline oozed around the Guggenheim. I feel I may have found a second home.

I ran a 10K yesterday called the Run to the G. The "G" is the further abbreviated name for the abbreviation the MCG, Melbourne Cricket Ground. It's the most famous sports stadium in Melbourne and where many a Footy match is played. You don't actually run to the G in the 10K (though you do finish there for the half marathon that I skipped for the 2 hours later start time.) I had a fun race. It was very crowded. I saw a co-worker on the course, but never did meet up with the girls I had planned to run with.

You know how I love blog participation: Thanks to Alex for checking in and doing a lot of back-reading on the blog. (Tell Nina and Tim I said hello.) Alex won the webdings conversion contest which was "pointless". She's a gamer!

I am also a recent winner, of a Trivia night held in Richmond this past Saturday. My team was well balanced and while I was no help with the Australian sports or pop-culture questions, I did correctly identify the capital of New Jersey, getting us 1 point which was the margin of victory. Unfortunatly, we won a lot of free jugs (what they call pitchers here) of beer, which made the Run to the G a little harder for me than necessary. I'm still a strong advocate of the hung-over category in road races. I think I would have made a strong showing in that category.

Bike update: Deirdre is currently in the hospital. They are going to do surgery on her left hoof. I should get her back next weekend. Don't send flowers, as she is allergic.

How many times did the Batmobile catch a flat?

Catastrophe has struck! Deirdre is out of commission. Today is the Queen’s birthday and a state holiday here in Victoria. I was planning on spending the day on a 50 K bike ride with Liz along the coast of Port Phillip Bay. About 5 K into the ride, luckily still near major roadways, my left pedal came flying off. We tried to put it back on, but the threads were completely stripped and it wouldn’t turn. Disappointed about missing out, I had to hail a cab and put Deirdre in the back seat. She just barely fit. I’ll have to take her to a bike shop next weekend. (Unless you have any suggestions…)

Back at 301, I rang up Joy and Hussey and we took the tram down to Port Melbourne to walk around. This is us on the pier. It was windy out and 13 degrees (about 55F).

Here’s my favorite Australian road sign.

Another thing I really enjoy about Australia is a nightly call in radio quiz on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation.) Below is a typical exchange:

HOST: Question 2: In what year was the American President John F. Kennedy assassinated?
CALLER: {hem and haw for 60 seconds, mention Jackie’s clothes, and perhaps that Bobby was also Killed, and that you have a neighbor named Bobby, etc.}
HOST: I’m going to have to ask you for an answer. In what year was the American President John F. Kennedy Assassinated?
CALLER: Can I have a clue?
HOST: All right. The decade was the 1960s.
{repeat extended hesitation. Recount where you were when you saw the news.}
HOST: I’m going to have to ask you for an answer. In what year in the 1960s was the American President John F. Kennedy Assassinated?
CALLER: I wonder if you could tell me if the year was even or odd?
HOST: All right: Odd. So there you go. An odd year in the 1960s. In what year was the American President John F. Kennedy Assassinated? 1961, 63, 65, 67 or 69?
CALLER: {Profess that it is all coming back to you and you can recall the year. You almost have it. If only you knew if it was in the early or later part of the decade…}
HOST: Right-o. I would say it is in the earlier half of the decade. So 1961, 63, or possibly 65. Are you ready for a guess?
CALLER: Can I ask my friend/husband/wife/neighbor?
HOST: Of course.
{Sound of the phone being put down on the kitchen table. Sound of the caller hollering down a hall.}
CALLER: {to host} What is the question again?
HOST: {Polite sigh} In what year in the was the American President John F. Kennedy Assassinated? 1961, 63, or 65?
CALLER: {Shouting down the hall} In what year in the was the American President John F. Kennedy Assassinated? 1961, 63, or 65?
HALLWAY EXPERT: {repeat the question, repeat above hemming and hawing, and mention Jackie’s clothes, and perhaps that Bobby was also Killed, and that you have a neighbor named Bobby, etc.}
HALLWAY EXPERT: I’m certain it was 1961. That was the year we redid the roof.
CALLER: Ok. I’m going to go with 1961.
HOST: {Genuine empathy} Oh! I’m sorry. That’s not it. Let’s go to our next caller.

Let’s just say the host is no Alex Trabek.

In other news, this week was pretty good. On Wednesday, I went to the National Australian Frisbee team try–outs (a long shot but tryouts were fun). All week work was crazy, but perhaps in a promising way. Friday night I went to the Mountain Goat Brewery with Jess, Joy, Liz and Hussey and then back to their house to watch a close match of footy. On Saturday, Chris and Liz came over to watch a movie and eat pasta. Sunday I went for a long run and then I went to a birthday outing (Happy Day Esther!) at a bar
in Fed Square a block or so from my apartment with much drinking and dancing.

Dad, I put a Father’s day present in the mail to you. Keep an eye out. It’s up to the whims of the Australian postal system if that’s your Father’s day present for 2007 or 2008.

On the NBA: Is his name LeBron or LeBroom? Tim Duncan is such a boring, dominant superstar.

Mailbag: Thanks to Ali for the postcard from Tuscany. Apparently there is something more to Italy than beach ultimate. Who knew?
And finally, here's a link for my sister Lynn. You're not alone, sis! Then again, she might not get it...

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Some time off work!

I finally took a few days off work. It's been since I went to Make A Wish DisneyWorld last year since I took a week off. I am having a great time.I went about 10 minutes up the 55 tram to see the Melbourne zoo. It is great. There are three baby tigers there who live in a nice big enclosure with their mom. They stalk each other and play and are very active. It was very entertaining and I watched them for at least 30 minutes. I could do that all day. The zoo has pretty much everything else you would expect, Koalas, Platypus, Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras, a wide range of Apes, 4 large male Lions, and a Kangaroo petting zoo.

I also went to check out Sydney. Here is some photographic proof. They sure are proud of this bridge and opera house. I walked across the bridge. It made me homesick for the Brooklyn Bridge. It was sunny and pretty in Sydney and I took a 30 minute ferry from Circle Quay to Manley, which is a world famous beach. Surf school was open and there were about 50 surfers catching 5 or 6 foot waves. A colleague (thanks Carl!) had recommended a drink in the Blue Horizon bar on the 36th floor of the Shang Ri La hotel. That afforded a beautiful view of the city skyline. There are a number of nice places to eat surrounding Darling harbour where you can sit outside and eat and watch sailboats and ferries dance around in the water.

Last night I went to a party at Mel Jackson's house, in the theme of T. Everyone came in great costumes including a Tarzan, a Tinkerbell, a Tripper, a Tourist, a tree Hugger, a set of Twins and a Terrorist. I started out Tipsy, but left Trashed. Thanks Mel!
Thanks to Amy for passing on this great site where you can watch lots of TV shows on high speed. It's a pretty good way to lose 20 hours.

While I'm impressed with LaKing, I'm still hoping the Pistons can wake up and win this series. If you have to put all 5 guys on him, just stop Labron. That's all. Gome on guys.

(Good luck to Puppet Regime at Co-Ed easterns.)

Friday, June 1, 2007

Checking In at the Library

So I took a little trip yesterday to the State Library of Victoria (about a 5 minute walk from 301 on Swanston Street). The building is beautiful. The reading rooms are all classically decorated. There is a large permanent collection of Australian art. The photos above are the library, me in front of it, and two views of the same reading room, one of the ground floor and one trying to capture the level upon level of stacks.

Rather than checking out a book,I was there to make some deliveries. I received a package recently from Meliors. (I have been receiving some great packages lately, given that today is my birthday. Thanks to Mom for the calendars and clock, to Lynn and Robbie for the great book and to Amy for the champagne stopper, CDs and photos.) Though I haven't met Meliors, I was introduced by my friend Kimberly.
Meliors had sent me some beautiful hand pressed cards with some instructions on where and when to place the cards in a library. Check out her beautiful press at her blog.
While this mild participation in art and idea exchange was already more than I usually undertake, I decided to give the project an air of a secret and dangerous mission. I raised the stakes considerably by misreading the time table. Arriving at 5:40, I was expecting to spend an hour or so in the library furtively placing the beautiful cards and head out unnoticed prior to the library's close at 9 PM. The library closes at 9 Monday to Thursday, but this was Friday, when they close at 6. Suddenly we have pressure. (Don't worry Meliors, I was just planning to find and place as many as I could and then come back tomorrow.)
I went off wandering though the stacks to specific Dewey decimal locations on specified topics and also one on the history of New Zealand. I split the cards about evenly between fiction and non-fiction. I had just found a book by a specified poet for the last card when the loudspeaker announced that the library would be closing in 5 minutes and asked us all to exit. Perfect!

So the cards are there now, making the beautiful library an even richer place. Some of them will be found today when the books that contain them are pulled off the shelves, and some of them will not be found for weeks or months. I think that whenever they are found, they will ignite in the mind of those who find them a sense of appreciation for their craft and a wave of consideration for their origin and for their message. Deep gratitude to Meliors for allowing me to participate in the project.