Thursday, May 31, 2007
Let's Go Red Sox!!
People ask me a lot if I am following the Sox from over here. Absolutely. Without the internet I wouldn't have a chance but with it I am able to follow the entire season. And with that.. If you want some inside information on the team here's where you can find Curt Schilling's blog - he always has something to say - and the other day Youkilis started one. His first post described his first inside-the-park homerun from the other night.
Incidentally, it was almost 2 years ago at Fanfest during the MLB Allstar Game weekend in Detroit that Hober and I had the privilege of meeting Curt Schilling...
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Books and Pictures
I just finished Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey: The River of Doubt by Candice Millard. I just happened to pick this up at some airport on my last trip to the States. It's a great book - the story is amazing and something that you wouldn't expect from an ex-president of the US (even if it is TR, I didn't expect him to do such a trip after he was president) and the writing, storytelling, and pertinent facts were very interesting and allowed me to fully picture the expedition's progress. And TR is someone who is always interesting to read about.
Just before this one I read Kerouac's Lonesome Traveler - this dude is writing the life I've been dreaming about for 15 years. He is now my favorite mid-20th century American writer. How's that for specific? But once I read a few more of his then he's likely to move up the overall list.
And to finish off some unfinished business, which will now be considered finished, here are some pictures:
On 25 April I did a trail run up in the Cathedral Range in Victoria:
And on 6 May Kevin and I ran the Great Train race, which is a race through the mountains where you race against the tourist train that they have there. It's a 13km run that is very hilly but a lot of fun. I can't remember what my number was so I can't find my time but I came in around 59 minutes, which was 1min 20sec slower than the train. Next year I'll get him.
I need to go to sleep!
I don't know how I do it...
Oh, this might help a little. Once again, Melbourne, Australia (where I live) has been placed very near the top of the list of "The World's Best Places to Live" according to Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
TOP TEN 2007
Based on Stability; Healthcare; Culture & Environment; Education; and Infrastructure
But a different survey done by Mercer (also 2007) shows "The World's Best Cities" and puts Melbourne in 17th place - still not too bad. And look who's number 3 for the US - Boston (36), look at us.
1 Zurich Switzerland
2 Geneva Switzerland
3 Vancouver Canada
3 Vienna Austria
5 Auckland New Zealand
5 Düsseldorf Germany
7 Frankfurt Germany
8 Munich Germany
9 Bern Switzerland
9 Sydney Australia
11 Copenhagen Denmark
12 Wellington New Zealand
13 Amsterdam Netherlands
14 Brussels Belgium
15 Toronto Canada
16 Berlin Germany
17 Melbourne Australia
18 Luxembourg Luxembourg
18 Ottawa Canada
20 Stockholm Sweden
21 Perth Australia
22 Montreal Canada
23 Nürnberg Germany
24 Calgary Canada
24 Hamburg Germany
26 Oslo Norway
27 Dublin Ireland
27 Honolulu USA
29 San Francisco USA
30 Adelaide Australia
30 Helsinki Finland
32 Brisbane Australia
33 Paris France
34 Singapore Singapore
35 Tokyo Japan
36 Lyon France
36 Boston USA
38 Yokohama Japan
39 London UK
40 Kobe Japan
41 Barcelona Spain
42 Madrid Spain
42 Osaka Japan
44 Washington DC USA
44 Chicago USA
46 Portland USA
47 Lisbon Portugal
48 New York City USA
49 Milan Italy
49 Seattle USA
Based on: Political, Economic, Socio-cultural, Health and Sanitation, Schools and Education, Public Services and Transportation, Recreation, Consumer Goods, Housing, Natural Environment
But the fact that it's 7:45am and I'm done running for the day is AWESOME.
Monday, May 28, 2007
I made it
Now it's time to start the pub crawl back into the city. We sent the organisers up ahead a bit, which proved to be a bad idea because we didn't make it into every bar that we passed - maybe that was a good idea. Our first stop was a crowded one that had Bon Jovi blaring from the inside. We stood around drinking our beers but got tired of being manhandled by everyone that walked by, which led us to the next bar - a very 'local' hotel that had an interesting mix of people. But it also had a pool table that we could use so one of the better bars of the night. Gradually, we lost participants and when we got to the CBD we hit another fancy bar but this one was of the scotch-and-cigar variety. But I can't tell you that I'll ever go there again - not because I thought it was a bad place to go but I may not be able to find it. There's no sign and it's up some stairs so you can't see it from the street, it's just a door, albeit, a nice door. And the last bar of the night landed us in the Elephant and Wheelbarrow in the city where I had a Guinness and called it a night around 2:30am, took a cab home, and that's about it.
Saturday - nothing, read a bunch of a book, got some coffee, that's about it.
Sunday I picked up a couple of friends, loaded up the Toyota with surfboards and headed down to Torquay for the 5ft swells promised to us by the internet. Well, the internet is a big fat liar because there were no waves, just some inconsistent 2 footers. But it was fun to try to catch some anyway, it's always nice to get in the water, and the beach was really nice too - although, it was a nude beach (no one using it for such these days because it's stinking cold) that is surrounded by cliffs (sorry, no pictures) and is very quiet. We made our way back to town and I finished off the day with a nice 10mile run. The ankle is feeling better but my knee is jacked up. The inside back is giving me some issues and throwing off my stride.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Let's go to the pub
I like pubs to be old, dirty, and moderately lit. I like them to have Irish names on the front, with Irish waitresses with Irish accents, and with Irish Guinness on tap. It's a bonus if it has a couple of steel-tip dart boards in the corner and a pool table. And if I'm in the Midwest then I'll even take a shuffleboard table as a substitute.
Well, a couple of days ago I got an email from a friend of mine saying that he and his girlfriend have arranged a night out at a bar on Friday and everyone's invited. This guy's a fellow GMIer - he won't steer me wrong, right? So we all give the green light. Then today I was wondering where we were going so I looked it up and to my horror this place is billed as "Sex in the City come to life" (is it Sex in the City or Sex and the City?). Also, "If you're looking for beer or wine don't come here." What has this dude gotten us into? This place is all mixed drinks - I think the only mixed drink I've ever ordered is a 3 Wisemen. I'll tell ya - I'm not looking forward to this.
But wish me luck, one consolation is that the dirty pool hall that we went to last week is just across the street. Somebody help me!
Exploring the High Country
Mt Buller (1804m) is the closest large ski area to Melbourne and there's a road that goes almost to the summit so I decided to take a drive to the top before I made my way to the base to do some hiking. I wasn't interested in climbing the mountain, I just wanted to get out in the bush to get away from everything. There was a small village at the top and there was some views but not too much to speak of. BTW - Mt Buller recieved 7cm (2.75in) of snow the other day - time to sharpen the board!
It was tough finding a trail at the base of the mountain and when I did it was impossible to figure out where it went but I started out on a trail that didn't seem to climb too much and followed a small creek but soon it went straight up a hill but the trail was almost impossible to follow. There was no sign of a trail under my feet and I had to rely on the sporadic blazes on the trees. Finally, I said 'stuff this' and decided to do some off-trail hiking instead - I wasn't going far anyway. The forest that I was in was recently burnt by bushfires and the ground was covered in ash that, when disturbed by my walking, got into my nose when I breathed and got onto my gear.
I only went in a few k's and set up camp on a flat surface without much ash butthere also wasn't much of a view but there's no need for that when you're sleeping. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and reading. One of the things that I wanted to see while I was out there were the stars - I'm not sure what it is but people always seem to be drawn to the stars and the ocean; neither of which can be fully grasped as you're standing on a small planet looking up towards the little specks of light or standing on the shore gazing out at the large blue expanse. The stars did come out eventually that night and the sky was clear of clouds and the moon was no where to be seen and without the light pollution of the city I was able to see a huge number twinkling above me. Without the moon it was so dark that I could only see around the campsite using my headlamp, otherwise it was I couldn't see my hand in front of me. After I got my fill of looking at the stars I went off to sleep in my little one-person tent.
I awoke to what must have been a pretty large tree branch breaking off in the distance. But it wasn't the sound of a branch that was still part of a tree, it was as if it was stepped on. And then I heard it off in the distance. It wasn't making any animal-like noises like barking or grunting but I could hear it move across the ground, or, to be more specific, hop across the ground. Kangaroos have to be the loudest animals around here - they don't have any natural enemies here so there's no reason for them to be quiet as they bounce through the forest. I think I heard this one coming from half-a-mile away and then he suddenly stopped.. crap, he saw me, or at least saw the tent that I was in. Just as I was thinking that he's going to want to come over to see what this bright orange dome is in the middle of his forest I heard him move cautiosly closer until he was what sounded to be 3 feet away - I couldn't tell because I had the rain-fly over the tent. My food was up in a tree so I wasn't concerned about that but I didn't really want him to hang around and start clawing at my tent so I just rolled over and it frightened him enough and he scampered off.
After my visitor left I saw that it was quite bright outside so I figured that the sun is coming up and it's about time to pack up and walk out of the woods. But when I got out of my tent I saw that the moon had come up and lit up the entire area and I was able to see about 100ft around the site. But with it still being night I had to go back to the tent and try to sleep through the rest of the night.
Now as the sun came up it was time to make the short walk back to the car. I easilly found my way back and it was still early in the morning so I pulled out the road map to see where else I could go. I could get back to Melbourne by doing a big loop along the Great Alpine Road, which wound its way through the rest of the alpine area. This road brought me by Mt Feathertop and over Mt Hotham then down through the towns of Omeo, Bairnsdale - where I had lunch, through Sale, and finally my route emptied into the very boring drive west towards Melbourne arriving 10 hours after I popped out of the bush that morning.
Still the top of Mt Hotham
Even with the comment earlier in this post about riding the board on snow, Sunday I'll be riding a different board on the water when a few of us head down to Torquay for some surfing. Hopefully I'll have some stories from that on Monday.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Great Ocean Road Marathon - Race Report
The race would start at 8am on Sunday and the course ran along the Great Ocean Road from Lorne to Apollo Bay. The Great Ocean Road is one of the main attractions in Victoria and is a cool place to drive along to see the beach, ocean, cliffs.. that sort of thing. I have a post from my drive along the road in November, check it out.
Let's start this story on the Sunday before - as stated in previous posts, I woke up that day with a nasty soar throat and was stuffed up. I spent the entire week trying to get rid of this cold, which meant no running but I just couldn't shake it until the Saturday before the race. I decided not to run on that Saturday either because I wouldn't gain anything from it and could possibly bring the cold back so I didn't do too much that day except go into the city to buy some Gu for the race and sit around to rest.
Runners needed to be at the start line at 7am for check-in and Lorne is about 2 hours away.. leave at 5.. breakfast beforehand.. I'll wake up at 4:30. Oh man, when that alarm went off I was full of cuss words, whining, and thoughts of skipping the race altogether but I got up, had some breakfast, finished packing my bag and I was off. Coming up to about 30km away from St Kilda (still 110km away from the start line) I realized that I forgot my watch - in my defense I've worn a watch maybe 5 times while running, it's not a piece of gear that I normally bring - and now I'm not happy at all because whole point of this run depended on me having a watch to pace myself. It was already well past 5 and I thought about going back but at this point I would just get there around 7 and it just wasn't possible to go back.
I was somehow able to convince myself that I can get on without the watch and just enjoy the run but I wasn't sure when those pissed off feelings would creep back into my head but the issue was off to the side for now anyway. I arrived, checked in, it was a little cool because it was morning but otherwise looked like it was going to be a nice day, no rain, some sun, not too hot. At 8 the gun was about to go off so I lined up right up front, not looking to take off too quickly but there were only 400 something people in this race and we had the entire road to ourselves. If I had sprinted the first couple of meters then I would have been leading the race for a few seconds but I left that up to the Kenyans who were 4 or 5 people to my right.
I came to realize that the watch wasn't even necessary because they didn't even mark the kms, the first marker wasn't until 7kms in and someone that did have a watch said that it came up too quickly so I was fine with not pacing myself. The first 13 miles went very well, although, a bit faster than I would have liked but it felt good. The scenery was great and the course was nice, a lot of turns on the road and quite a few hills, which make the race more interesting when you're not going for time. I never knew where I stood for time, they didn't have clocks anywhere along the course, not even at the half-way mark.
After around 16 miles I started to slow down considerably and then around 20 miles in my legs just froze up and the muscles didn't want to move anymore. This brought me down to a very painful and slow shuffle for the remaining 6 miles. Fortunately, it was just the muscles that were bothering me, everything else felt fine, even my ankles, which was encouraging, and the endurance was there. To get over this for the Melbourne Marathon I just need to do a lot of miles during training and between now and October my schedule is telling me that I have to run 834 miles so I think that should be enough.
It seems convenient that the two towns happen to be a marathon apart but that's not actually the case. They're really 45km apart and not the marathon distance of 42km so instead of moving the start or finish lines they give you your time for a 42km marathon and then make you run (or walk or crawl or whatever) the extra 3k's into town and then give you a time for that as well. So, does that mean that I've run an ultramarathon?
Aside from not being able to pace myself and my painful breakdown and my not very welcome marathon time of 3:52 (that's 8:52 mins/mile - my 45km time was a lot worse) I was happy with the race overall. Once I finish this Melbourne Marathon and can run races just for fun and forget about the time then I would come back to this one because the course was so nice. I did learn quite a bit about where I am in my training as well and what I need to do in the next marathon. I didn't run on Monday after the race but I think I'm going to try to go out today even though my ankle is a bit messed up... Maybe I'll just walk.
Next race (that I'm signed up for) is the Run to the G Half Marathon in 4 weeks.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Why do we lie to ourselves?
I didn't drink too much but staying out that late definitely didn't help my sleep situation, which I needed plenty of since I had been sick all week (still am a little) and because I have a marathon tomorrow. I picked the place that we went to, I don't get to play pool here very often here because there aren't too many places that have tables and when they do they're crap so we went to a real live pool hall. A lot of people ask me what I miss from the States and my answer is usually 'nothing' because I have everything that I need but now I think my answer might be pool.
First of all - they play on snooker tables, they're enormous (a 10 footer is 3/4 size) and the pockets are small and have rounded corners (you'd think that this wouldn't be too bad but it's horrible). If you're off by just a tad on a straight shot it is not going in and then will bounce off the rounded corner and end up on the other side of the table.
Second - the cues are very light, short, and the tip is about half the size of a normal cue. You know how everyone that owns a table has that one cheap cue that you only use when you're up against the wall? Yeah, that's all they have.
Third - the balls are smaller and coupled with the small cues it's tough to get a good strike on the ball or control the spin.
But if I keep playing on these tables then I should be able to hit a straight shot from 12 feet... if an opportunity to do that ever comes up again.
So we had some fun trying to push the balls around the table, played some horribly long games of 8 ball, and then headed home around 2 am. Today I'm just going to rest up for tomorrow, try to get to a running store, and maybe head into the city to grab some coffee and food. I'm looking to run 8 minute miles consistently tomorrow - this isn't a race that I'm going all out on, it's practice for October's race. I haven't run for a week because I've been sick so it should be interesting and let's hope that my ankles hold up. Full on marathon training starts on Monday.
To answer Hober's question from two posts ago - Jill (4 years old) is my sister Joanne's kid and Riley (0 years old) is my cousin Jamie's newborn.
What's with the rain up in Boston forcing two doubleheaders for the Sox in one week? It was nice to see the Sox take down the Tigers this week though. I told you Tavarez was going to come out with a good game. And how about Hinske coming out in the second game on Thursday? Diving game and a jack. Getting it done. Go Sox!
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Jill and Riley
Then I got to head over to Boston to see the family, visit some friends, and have a good time over there too. I'm sure I have plenty more stories but we'll stop there because I have a schedule to keep here and this trip is old.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The US - Part 2
I didn't take too many pictures but Bon and Ang have some better ones on their blogs (link to the left). More stories to come.
Sometimes this kid just freaks me out
Stef and Dina chilling
Ang putting the kibosh on taking pictures of her
Me and Steph'nie
In response to Hober's request for more pics - sorry about that, I forgot that you "read" this blog. More picture content, fewer words, and I'll even try to reduce the number of syllables per word - I know that's how you like it.
Sox are playing the Tigers tonight. Dice-K v. Robertson - should be a good game.
Anyone see the Sox game yesterday? Beckett was looking for his 8th win in 8 starts, I checked the score and it was 5-0 Balt in the bottom of the 9th and Beckett had come out early with a blister. Crap, there goes his perfect record since he let in 2 during the first. I checked again not too later and it was 6-5 Sox! How did they pull that off? I didn't get to see any of it but read that Baltimore's horrendous fielding gave Beck a no decision. Thanks O's.
Monday, May 14, 2007
The US - Part 1
The whole reason for this trip was to go snowbo... I mean for Hober and Julie's wedding in Colorado. Of course I knew about this wedding before I was sent to Australia so it was a 'condition of assignment' that I needed to return to the US in March. In reality my bosses are pretty cool and would have let me go regardless. So I boarded that enormous plane out of Melbourne on the 10th of March, through LA, and down into Detroit for a 2 week work trip / holiday, which would bring me to Detroit, CO, and Boston.
Most of the readers of this blog were there so I can just fill this in with little stories and a good outline. Detroit was the first stop, my company decided to bring me in to the office to hang out for a bit before my week-long holiday - they were paying for the trip so why not? I landed in Detroit and I'm sure it was cold, I had to drive on the right side of the road and the left side of the car and I'm sure I hit the windshield wipers instead of the directional a few times and drove in the middle of the lane because I didn't know where the sides of the car were. After check-in and finding out what life is like without a cell phone some people were nice enough to meet up with me at Stan's in AH and it wasn't difficult to revert back to Michigan life.
The next day was running in the Corktown Race in Detroit - this is the St Patrick's Day race that I've done a few times before. It's really a great race to jog in - I wouldn't run it. And with that I got to run with Dina and talk to her while we ran through the streets of Detroit. Our time was pretty good and then we both fought through the crowd to get our free beer - I got mine first and when Dina saw that I had one in each hand she turned around to leave until I said, "No, Dina, these are mine, you have to get your own." I seem to remember one of those being spilled so I guess kharma beat me on that one too. A bunch more people showed up for the longest parade that you will never see - we just hang out off to the side and never see any of the parade but it's good time to be down there anyway.
The rest of the week was a bit of the same, meeting up with friends each day to catch up, it felt as if I've been gone for years and not months but it's easy to fall back into the groove with this group. We've been together since college and even when we try we can't get rid of each other and actually that makes us realize even more that we don't want to. This is my second time away from my MI friends (first was when I lived in Boston) and I'm sure it won't be my last but they're certainly a group that I don't want to lose - if I could, I'd move the all down here with me (that would be sweet).
Oh, let's tell the story about getting to the airport - I have a problem with being late for stuff but missing this flight was not an option so I packed up and left early. I walked up to the front desk of the hotel and no one was there.. strange.. they did leave a number to call though, which I did (at this point I was thinking of just leaving), and it seems that I had terribly inconvenienced the lady that had to come out front to check me out. This was also the longest check out ever - what does she need to do? "Yes, he left." Next was gas for the rental car, which took time, and the Detroit airport is just far enough to inconvenience everyone and make it impossible to make it on time for a 6:30 flight. I was driving and driving and driving and it seemed that I was never going to get there. Finally, I get there but need to turn in my rental car - I pulled into the lot at 5:40 (for a 6:30 flight) and there was a line of people and a bus just sitting right there but they had to go through the check out and print my receipt and ask questions and.. "I gave you your stinking car, let me leave." Now I had to contend with the bus and I was thinking that there's no way that I'm not going to make it because I have to go to the "other" terminal and I know that they're not going to go to that one first - but the nicest lady ever announces that we are going to the "other" terminal first. Hell yeah. That doesn't change the fact that I am freaking late and have a snowboard bag and a suitcase that I need to check in (can you fit a snowboard in the overhead compartment?) and now I have some dude asking me where I'm going - it's 6am, I'm going to miss my flight, and I don't remember Dunkin Donuts being open so I am not in the mood. I get out of there as fast as I can to check my bags and I think this terminal is mainly for people that have never seen an airport before because people are just wandering around with no direction. But I jump through line, fly through security, and walk right onto the plane. Yikes.
And the wedding - it was a great wedding. Of course, Hober knows how to throw a party and that he did. We won't get into that part of the trip too much but congratulations etc etc.
Alright, as stated in a previous post, I'm sick and I'm starting to have a sneezing fit so I'm going to bed. But at least I got through some of it like I said I would. To be continued...
To answer Jed's question:
"Can you learn how to play the dirigidoo thing? I think Shut Up Robert could use that in the near future..."
I suppose in theory I could - they sell playable didgeridoos in the market for somewhere between $100 and $200 and then they have 'how to play' books and tapes and they even have CDs that you can listen to other people play with. But I know that Jed is just being facetious and Shut Up Robert is not looking for that sound in the near future, not to mention that I won't even be there in the near future. So the best I can do is ship one over to you (at your expense of course).
The post about my trip to the States will be up this afternoon but right now I have to get through the work day. I am a bit sick today - it started on Saturday - soar throat, sneezing, tired. This is the first time that I've been sick since I moved here. Really, I blame Kelly because she has been sick like crazy for last couple of weeks. Of course, I haven't seen her since October but I blame her nonetheless. Kelly, by the way, is moving to Hawaii today - Honolulu to be exact. Now I'm sure she'll be getting plenty of calls from people that she doesn't know for visits.
Talk to you in a bit...
Sunday, May 13, 2007
And then I promise(!) to keep this A LOT better updated... maybe even every day. Yeah right. But I'll try.
But to start out, expect entries each of the next few days on these:
Mon - A very quick recap on my trip to the States (yes, that was in March)
I guess I have more than I thought.
So, keep me going on this so I don't fall behind and feel free to tell everyone about it. Talk to you soon... that means tomorrow.
Haley and Robbie watching the Aussie countryside from the train