Saturday, February 27, 2010

(Aussie rules )FOOTY!!!!!

Friday night is footy night! - Footy in this case being something called aussie rules football, a primitive game played by former convict types on an oval pitch (traditionally a cricket pitch I think - sacrilege!!!).

We witnessed round 2 of the preseason cup clash between the Hawks (Tasmania) and the Western Bulldogs (Melbourne). It's a preseason knockout competition.

After some stretching we were underway - the game turned out to vary between periods of slick ball movement, catching, passing and quick kicking which were very entertaining to watch combined with small melees of players trying to gather posession of the ball (think a bunch of 10 year old soccer players in a group kicking at the ball, each other and jumping into piles). Scoring consisted of kicking the ball between four upright poles at each end of the oval.

We were rooting for the Tasmanians but they ended up losing comprehensively 1.15.12 (111) to 0.7.12 (54).

This being pre-season there were a number of players who had the night off. As we were about to get underway our neighbours entered from the field and sat beside us. Of course we had no idea of their celebrity but it turned out they were current players who Miriam mentioned might have been of interest to our single friends (this was offered to me quite diplomatically so I was unable to feel any jealousy - but I might have seen her pupils dilate a bit at one point). Further research told us they were better looking in person and that most of the team is better viewed at a distance.
Chance Bateman
Clinton Young
Thomas Murphy

OH - and this might get a chuckle from a few folks - here was one transcript from the evening.
Miriam - "Hey Will"
Will - "Yes?"
Miriam - "How many quarters are there in the game?"
Will - "How many do you think there are?"
Miriam - "Three?"
Will - "Uh-hu! Three!" pause "Why do you think they call them quarters?"
Miriam - Pause, pause..... "oh"
She did then question why the first quarter ended at 26:02, the second 28:34 and third at 27:22 which I didn't have an answer to. We left before the end of the final period and never really worked that one out but weren't concerned with our ignorance.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Zoo - part2 - the walkers

This being a trip down under I'm pretty much only going to display the native species we saw, with one exception. Yes the zoo was full of the usual suspects but we were here for the Marsupials!!!!

The adorable koala, the 50lb wombat (we decided it's arse represents 50% of its mass) and the kangaroo all were on display for us. Also we were lucky enough to see a platypus swimming in its pond unfortunately it was in a room that was extremely dark making photography impossible. The platypus has to be one of the most unlikely animals that exists and a real quirk of evolution - furry, venomous, otter footed, beaver tailed, electroreception, duck billed, lays eggs, young feed on milk, has a pouch.

Here's one animal that wasn't native to the continent but figured ought to get a mention. The superb sumatran tiger. Utterly majestic but sadly so threatened. This picture seemed more appropriate somehow than the beast itself.

Zoo - part1 - that which flys

We had a particularly enjoyable time in the bird and butterfly houses. Lots of pictures were taken but these two stood out.


Next stop after the memorial were the botanical gardens. Opened in 1846 it's apparently one of the best around. We had a lovely two hour stroll enjoying the sights and smells of the plants along with some fun animals that call the place home.

We also found our namesake along with some gnomes and their magic pudding which has come to life.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Shrine of Remembrance

In the Kings Domain is the Shrine of Remembrance. Built to commemorate the fallen during World War I, the Shrine is now a memorial to all wars that the ANZAC forces have fought in. ANZAC is the Australian New Zealand Army Corp and they have fought together since the first Mauri war in the 1860s.

The Shrine is based on a prymiad shape because during World War I, the ANZAC forces were stationed in Cairo. At top is open and once a day, a light moves across a stone on the floor that reminds everyone to pause and remember those who have died in war.

Through out the Shrine, there are numerous regiment colors and flags. Here is the Australia flag, and then the Australian Air Force flag, which was our favorite.

From the top of the Shrine you can see St. Kilda Road into downtown Melbourne, and on ANZAC Day (April 25th), war veterans march down the street to the Shrine.

Displayed inside are all the medals won by soliders throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries. Each medal represents 100 people who served in war. The wall ran the length of the Shrine.

Next to the Shrine was our next stop: the Royal Botanic Garden, with a view to the poppies (in the cross-shape) from the fields of Flanders that have grown here ever since the seeds were brought back from World War I.

National Gallery, Queen Victoria Gardens, and Kings Domain

Thursday was touring day. We went to the National Gallery (for the shop, the main exhibit was kinda creepy large naked realitisic statues) and enjoyed their waterfall.

We then wondered through Queen Victoria Gardens, where we saw the Government House. It is a copy of Queen Victoria's palace on England's Isle of Wight and was built in 1872. It was the home of the Victorian Governer and now you can tour it.
Of course, wandering through the gardens, we ran across a memorial honoring the brave island of Malta! It was rather funny to see something on Malta all the way in Australia, but we certainly enjoyed seeing it and remembering our holiday there last May.

If you haven't already, go to Malta.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Queen Victoria Market

On Wednesday night, the last evening at the Queen Victoria Market for the summer occurred. Hard to imagine that February is summer, but we are in upside-down future land.

It is a farmer's market, a craft market, and food stalls. It was teaming with people and many of the sheds and buildings are on the hertiage listing. Queen Victoria Market has been around for more than 130 years and it is the mother of all Melbourne markets.

At one of the food stalls, and of course where we chose to eat dinner, they served croc, roo, and emu too! By the time we got to the window, they were out of croc, so we had a roo burger with tastes of emu sausage and half a patty of ostrish.

Music entertainment included swing dancing lessons as well as live bands.

And in one stall, appropriately named Sugar, they were making hard candy. This large block of candy was warmed, thinned, rolled, cut, and then made into a lollipop. It was amazing to watch.

And for dessert, we went to this stall and had osyters. They were busy all night long, selling oysters on the half shell, fish and chips, and --what else? -- shirmp on the barbie. We are in Oz, afterall!

Toasting Our Honeymoon

Will's conference is finally over and we can officially start the honeymoon!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The First Official Souvenior

Bringing Will closer to the action than ever before, with the officially licensed teams, players, and stadia of the Ashes series 2009 game --that's a cricket computer game to the rest of us.

Will can replay the classic Ashes moments and have tutorials with Shane Warne*, his favorite player on the Aussie team, and have realistic and authentic gameplay.

Let the battle commence!

*Will despises this man....

Chinese New Year

At at the Crown Towers, in the lobby, they have this massive dragon, named Lung, and Chinese Lanterns, fish, etc. Twice an hour, it comes ALIVE!!! Music, lights, and steam. It is pretty....

cheesy, really. Apparently they do change the exhibit and there is a lovely Christmas display. They will soon take it down. Below is an explanation. Enjoy!

It just proves that Australians are a bit crazy.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Worth the Price of Admission

My first look at Oz from the plane-- Qantas has a kangeroo on their planes. Below is Syndey and this point in the trip I still have 2 more hours until landing. 15 hours is a loooooooooooooooong time on a flight.

You can't see the famous opera house from the air, but you can see the beautiful coastline.

And Melbourne: it is very pretty and I agree that it reminds me of London and Portland. Or even San Fran, with the way the weather changes. It will be 80 one day and then 65 with a strong breeze the next. Still, it is sunny and warm (and no snow on the ground).

Will has spent his days in the convention centre. It is a nice facility and I think that my work should consider having it's annual meeting here. January would be lovely and warm here....

Walking around Melbourne means you walk over lots of bridges over the Yarra River. They all have some sort of decoration or sculpture over them, but this is Prince's Bridge and it reminded me of London as it was decorated underneath for the river traffic.

how does this honeymoon thing work?

So it's my first time at this but so far it seems to suck.

I'm working all day - she's at the spa or something.

am I doing it wrong?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

She's here - finally

landed this morning, showered and met up with me in time for lunch.

I'm working for the next few hours and she's now off touring the city center - we'll meet up for dinner before I put her to bed.

Off to Oz Redux

So I'm still in LA. not Oz.

After a simple boarding on DC to Dallas, the second flight--Dallas to LAX-- was cancelled. An unexpected two hour layover and one middle seat later, I arrived at LAX for a 6 hour layover.

I finally boarded at 11:30 for the 11:50 flight. Window seat no one next to me. Not a full flight. Awesome.

Take off ... And announcement: one of the flaps on the wing was not retracting, something hit it on take off. It is creating too much drag and we will run out of fuel before reaching Brisbane. They would serve us dinner and then TURN THE PLANE AROUND.

At this point it is 3 am my time and I have a choice of chicken or fish for dinner as I watch the in-flight map show the plane facing back to the
US. Two hours later I'm back on the runway at LAX as we wait for engineers. They come, they fix, we deboard. Why? Now if we take off now the flight crew will be beyond the max flying time.

We are taken to a hotel and I get the 2nd to last room. The rest behind me were sent to another hotel. We would get a wake up call between 8:30-9:00 am and we would be on the plane again by noon. I wash out my socks and unmentionables and go to bed. It is 6:30 am LA time or 9:30 am in DC. I have been up more than 24 hours.

This morning: no wake up call and no plane at noon. They found more damage on the wing and so now the passengers were rebooked on one of three other Qantas flights leaving at 11:00 pm tonight. The upside: I booked straight to Melbourne. The downside: I arrive on Monday morning and not Sunday.

I went back to bed. I showered. I ate. I confirmed my new flight, which is now full due to 16 refugees like myself.

I'm now back at LAX and awaiting my second Qantas flight. Due to board at 10:20 and take off at 11:10 pm. Wish me luck.

I have to say, this is one way to start off a honeymoon. Will has already promised me a spa day at the hotel in Melbourne for tomorrow. That sounds more romantic, doesn't it?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Off to Oz part 2

I am boarding for LAX from DCA, starting the first leg of my long journey.

Will assures me that the sun and the city are worth it!

Oz here I come!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the colour of money

They have clown money here - for the record $20 is bright red. Absurd.

oh - and it's plastic of course for those who didn't know. Nice to see the queen on there tho - that's proper at least.

Upside-down summertime land

Melbourne - first impressions

Visually a combination of Portland and London with a bit of San Francisco/Chicago thrown in. Beautiful river flows through the center of the town - a lively bustle of people and the echo of tram bells. Very pretty.

While the locals are pretty/handsome they have appalling dress sense - seem nice enough tho, despite the silly accent.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Calling From the Future

Melbourne, and the Yarra River

Will has called me from the FUTURE!!! He landed in Oz, made it to his hotel, and then called, asking me if it was the middle of the night. It was 7:45 pm Wednesday evening. For him, it was 11: 45 am Thursday morning.

The future is bright and sunny folks. Well, it is for me, cuz I leave to join him shortly!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


At 7:03 pm last night, our street was finally plowed! I ran out to greet the plowman and to cheer him for his work. They have been plowing roads for 12 hours a day for 8 days now. They deserve some cheering.

But, wait! That isn't a snow plow coming down the street.


The city has resorted to construction equipment to help move the snow and replace the plows that have been broken or damaged by over use and the sheer amount of snow they have to push.

This dozer was accompanied by a smaller bulldozer and they made 3 passes on the street. The mound of snow at the end of the street is as tall as house and there are comparable mounds on the two other corners. Just amazing.

Thanks, guys, for clearing the street! It is greatly appreciated!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Walk About

It's a bright, sunny, blue-sky day, so we are going on a walk about, DC Style.

Seriously, it has been 6 days since we left the immediate neighborhood. We had to get out and see what the rest of the city looked like.

It is still 32 degrees, so you always need dress for the weather:

This is our street after the dig out and with dry sidewalks. The snow is piled up on either side of the walk-- it has a solid ice crust on it and comes to my chest.

This is Kelly and Stirling, standing by one of the street corners where the plows were moving snow to once they had plowed the street. Yup, taller than her and three other corners with mounds just as high or higher!

The National Cathedral seems to have weathered the storm just fine. With such a blue sky, it is a striking building.