My Life Abroad: The Adventures of Two Birds
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Sun
26
Dec '10

Our trip to California

Family and Sierra Nevada Brewery

Going home to Chico was fun as always, we got to see so many friends – it seemed like everyone came out of the woodwork for the night.  Some that never come out to the bars even… and thank you for that everybody.  I had a great time.  The Sierra Nevada Brewery was great, we always love going there, and we met up with my friend Liz, her boyfriend Cody and baby Gavin. The cheesecake was yummy!!  We also made a special trip to see Kahlua, Marie & Leanne.  As always the Sierra Nevada Brewery was great, on our second trip with John and Jackie, and Dustin we tried the beer sampler of all the Sierra Nevada beers in a short taster glass each. 

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NBA Basketball 

During our trip we went to a few Sacramento Kings basketball games, and we had some nosebleed seats, and some floor seats.  We also got a close up of Andrew Bogut (the Australian player on the Bucks).

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Christmas at the Hay house

We’ve spent the week shopping, and going out for some fun dinners while in Sacramento.  With Mom and friends, we’ve had a good time! Were settling down a little for Christmas then back on to the shopping, and all the after Christmas sales.  We had Gramma, and my cousin Lavette, my brother Adam and girlfriend Kat, and Mom, and the dog Raider (yes Mom is a Raiders fan). It was nice to be home with the family this year for Christmas, hoping to catch up with a bit more family and some friends before we head on to New York City for New Years Eve and 5-days of sight seeing.  Stay tuned for pics of our New Years Eve events!

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Our Christmas Day

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Merry Christmas everyone!

Mon
25
Jan '10

Australian Open 2010

Roger Federer [1] vs. Lleyton Hewett [22]

arena.jpgAmazingly enough we decided to buy tickets for the Australian Open this year and we selected the 4th Round at Rod Laver Arena, the biggest venue of the many courts we have available in Melbourne.  Last night they announced that we’d be seeing Federer v. Hewett. 

Lleyton Hewett is an Aussie and there were big groups of “youngsters” (meaning in their twenties – boy do I sound freakin old?), with their shirts spelling H E W E T T and screaming/singing (or scream singing) chants for Lleyton to win. Really, it was no use.  This game, however awsome to see Federer play live, was destined to be another stepping stone to get Fed to the final.

It was a quick game, Federer wining 3 sets to make it a quick 1-1/2 hour match.  If Hewett really wants to stay in the game he’s gonna actually have to run to the ball instead of stopping short on too many occassions because it looked like he “might” not make it to the ball.  I think he would have had a fair shot against Federer if he had worked a bit harder… but that’s only my opinion.

Look out, next year we’re taking a day off work and getting a ground pass so we can see a bunch of games.  With so many outdoor courts, Rod Laver and Hisense Arena’s all in the same vacinity they’re saying they’ll be building more (Melbourne that is), and the Australian Open is guaranteed another 25 years of tournament play.  It was tons of fun and I can’t wait to return next year… will Don Sanzone be there?  I certainly hope so!

All in all it was still pretty awesome, here’s some quick snaps from our Australian Open nosebleed seats at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne:

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Sun
6
Apr '08

Australian Rules Football

On our last day we headed out in the morning to the Queen Victoria Market and bought some goodies, MAdam got some pressys to take home and we had some brekky in the morning then made out trek over to the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) for an Australian Rules Football game, the Pies vs. Tigers.  The Collingwood Magpies are on the top of the ladder and the Richmond Tigers tried to keep up but to no avail. 

On this, our last day, we had a great time hanging out at the game – there were 70,000+ in attendance.  Adam got some great pictures of the game too:

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After the game, Birdie had a big suprise for us.  We walked into Richmond until we came aross this Mexican Restaurant (and by the way, Mexican really sucks here).  We walked in and found a table for 12 setup.  Just then I turned around to see Blair, Michelle, and the girls along with some other friends. It was a great suprise because I thought Blair was away in London!  We had a great evening and hung out late for drinks in Richmond with my family, Michelle & Blair. It couldn’t have been a better suprise. I must say, I am very thankful for some of the good friends we have. It was a really fun day, and it really ended our short holiday with a bang.

Again, don’t forget to check out all our photo albums from MAdams trip from our Photo Album page.

Thu
27
Dec '07

Boxing Day Test Cricket: Australia v. India

A couple of years ago we went to the Boxing Day Cricket at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with some friends, and this year I bought tickets for us to go with friends again. Boxing day is the day after Christmas and it is the big shopping day (just like in the States). Instead of shopping we went to the Cricket to see Australia v. India. We had a great time!  Mel and Brent joined us and we had a long sunburnt, beer-filled adventure.  I got some great shots with my new camera, here’s a couple favourites but you can see all the pictures in my photo album: Boxing Day 2007.

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Boxing Day is a public holiday recognized in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, as well as many other members of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is celebrated on December 26, the day after Christmas Day. Boxing Day is a traditional celebration dating back to the Middle Ages, of which the primary practice is the giving of gifts to employees, the poor, or to people in a lower social class. The name has numerous folk etymologies; the Oxford English Dictionary attributes it to the Christmas box; the verb box meaning: “To give a Christmas-box (colloq.); hence the term boxing-day.” Outside the Commonwealth, the holiday is sometimes called “St. Stephen’s Day”.

Check back for our New Years Eve post coming next week!

***

Mental Status: Feeling good. Need to catch up on the after-Christmas house mess! Have been web-camming it up with the family this week back in the States, can’t wait for our trip back home in July!
Favourite thing this Week: Nice to have a week off from work, the Cricket was the highlight this week – hanging with Mel & Brent and partying last night with Blair at his new house – tons of fun!
Book this WeekDouble Cross by James Patterson
Something New: Looking at new jobs again, keeping my fingers crossed to make the move over to IT Project Management as there are some new great opportunities ahead.

Sat
3
Nov '07

Hummergun @ Barbuka, Melbourne

Our good mate Blair G. is in an excellent original band, heavy rock with some great lyrics.  This is my tribute to Hummergun for finally getting to my first show (due to my recent travels). Barbuka in Melbourne is a crazy little venue with red lighting and candles set into brick walls, this place reminds me of some of the places in Chico, CA that I used to frequent. Kinda felt like home.  Hummergun get’s two thumbs up!  If you want to know more about Hummergun you can find them on Facebook Groups: HUMMERGUNROCKS! or on MySpace at www.myspace.com/hummergun  

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HummerGun (right: Blair) are a heavy rock/metal group out of Melbourne, formed out of the ashes of two very different groups. Coming together in late 2006, they very quickly gelled into a cohesive songwriting unit, using their knowledge and love of different styles to write heavy and melodic rock songs with tinges of metal. This songwriting relationship continues to grow amongst the band, with later work demonstrating that HummerGun have found a style that is definitely their own.

Counting among their influences everything from the riff laden rock of Led Zeppelin to the acoustic thoughtfulness of Alice in Chains, HummerGun have very quickly gained a loyal following through this unique style, combining melodic elements with huge riffs, and occasionally, and surprisingly, the blind fury of metal.

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Performing their first shows in March 2007, HummerGun have very quickly gained a reputation as a phenomenal live band, combining intensity with tight playing to give consistently amazing performances. With front man Mathew Timms stalking the stage, his vocals complemented by the deft playing of Blair Gowans on guitar and underscored by the brilliantly tight and heavy rhythms of Damian Hartin on bass and Damian Boult on drums, HummerGun’s is a live show not to be missed.

What I learned at Cricket

I’ll call this a new segment to the blog, we spend about every weekend at the Cricket Club and I do run into something new each week. This (Cricket) is something I’m still trying to understand, and last week I got to try my hand at keeping score for Birdie’s Cricket match.  Quite interesting, and I actually learned more about Cricket than I probably wanted to know.  I can officially, without help, keep score now.  I’m actually proud of myself.  Of all the partners and wives amongst the Cricketers, I am the first to ask to be able to score.  Ah HA!

What I learned at Cricket this week:

1. Hitting a ball out of the park is worth 6 runs (essentially 6 points, it’s like a home run).

2. Emma’s wallet is much to big for her purse (we laugh about how she has a George Costanza wallet and she doesn’t get it… ) By the way, this picture is real.

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3. Bella the Cricket baby looks better in my sunglasses than I do.

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4. Aussie sausages look like hot dogs.

5. My Birdie runs a mean BBQ, and he even looks mean doing it (even though he’s not).

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6. The Cricket Club bar is named after our friend Pete.

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Mon
8
Oct '07

A relaxing weekend at home…

So far my last couple weeks in Sydney has been busy, mostly with work but with a little fun too.  It was great to have Melinda up for the weekend after my first week, we had a great time.  My second week was work sun up to sundown and I didn’t get much time to really poke around Sydney too much.  Driving to the different Sydney surrounding suburbs has been good though – a lot of good sights and interesting landscape. 

This is my third week in Sydney, and I am in the Western suburbs this week in Penrith and Nepean.  It’s about a :40 minute drive from the city and very pretty.  This area is beautiful and green, lots of rolling hills – and thus the hospital up here is called The Hills Private Hospital. 

I am noticing considerable differences between Sydney and Melbourne the longer I stay here – it is just a completely different atmosphere. I suppose it has to do a lot with the “city” life, but what has effected me most is the road system here.  I know in larger cities there are a lot of one-way streets, but here there are about 6 major highways (motorways) built and owned by different compaines.  Each has their own toll, in both directions and all at different rates. What’s the worst part is that as a visitor to this city it is very confusing.  Most of these toll motorways do not have cash payment booths, instead there are a number of cameras on the road that capture your license number and send out a fine, penalty, or a bill for travelling on the road.  Half the time I don’t know which road I will be taking to get to a facility, and because many of these roads intersect I never seem to know when I was on one of the roads.  I’ve had to set up accounts with all of the motorways here so I can be billed just in case  I drive on one.

Happy Birthday Sally!

I did get a weekend at home. Rod picked me up from the airport on Friday last, and we drove straight to the city for birthday drinks with my friend and ex-co-worker Sally.  It was good to catch up with Sal and Kasey, we all worked together at my first job in Melbourne, at The Alfred Hospital.  We had a few drinks, but I swear I’m getting too old – it was too crowded for me and after a couple hours hanging out we buzzed home.

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Happy Birthday Sal (left to right) Sally, Lainey, and Kasey

The Saturday Cricket Game

pete-barrett.jpg Saturday I relaxed while Birdie played Cricket. He is the captain of the “Two’s” the second string team.  He was the high scorer on Saturday with 44 runs.  And our friend, and Melinda’s partner, Brent took 4 wickets!  He was awarded with the most valuable player for the game.  I can’t go into detail to explain again how cricket works, if you are really interested try Google.  Here’s a picture of those left over from game day at the Peter Barrett bar… along with Peter Barrett! He’s pointing up at the sign with his name on it.  This is our summer club – where we go to hang with the Cricket Club members.

Note the beautiful new uniforms, I even got my own jacket this year.  Pictured here is from left to right: Rob (our best man), Birdie, Emma (my bridesmaid), a couple guys I can’t remember (he he), Brent (Melindas boyfriend), and Sammy.  After Cricket and some beers we went to my favourite restaurant with Rob and Emma, Indochine is the best Vietnamese food in town!  I’m gonna be looking forward to December when my friends band Chords plays at the Crickets infamous ‘band night’ and I get featured in a set with a number of songs! WooHoo!

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I am only on day one of my third week here in Sydney but from here on I will be going home every weekend.  I’m looking forward more to my trips to Perth in Western Australia, Darwin in the Northern Territory, and Adelaide in South Australia.  I hope to be able to see more of Australia as I travel around.

 ***

Mental Status: Stressed from work and training this week, looking forward to the weeknd and getting back home.
Best Thing this Week: Spending time with Birdie.
New Book: The Quickie by James Patterson.

Tue
27
Dec '05

Cricket at the MCG

My First Boxing Day

It was quite an experience, at the Cricket on Boxing Day, they say that the first day of the five day series is the most attended. We had great seats on the second level and had a great angle on the game. You can see in my picture below…

Australia v. South Africa: Boxing Day Cricket

     

                The MCG Stadium               MCG Crowd                                      

I know I’ve gone into some detail on the rules of cricket in other posts – you can see here that the game is played on a 22 yard (20 meters) dirt “pitch”.  There are two wickets at each end and the bowler (pitcher) bowls the ball in a overhand motion six balls to each wicket (called an “over”).  Each day consists of 90 overs. There are three two-hour sessions and we stayed for the first session before we went off to eat lunch.

We made a quick stop at Depot bar in Melbourne and met a fantastic couple there that hung with us the rest of the day. Fiona & Dave are from New Orleans and recently suffered the effects of Katrina and Rita.  Fiona is an Aussie and Dave originally from New Orleans – they are in the process of moving to Canberra (the capital of Australia). We took a great picture at our second stop (or so called bar crawl) The London Tavern

Heather & Blair, Rod & Lainey, and Fiona & Dave

Can’t say we ever made it to lunch, it was more like liquid lunch, but we had a great time and made it for dinner at Heather & Blair’s house. 

Lainey & Blair

Now Rod and I are off to the “after Christmas” sales to do some shopping.  We are planning a big camping trip before I start work in January so we have to start stocking up on the camping goodies.

***

Mental Status: Hung over, tired, but ready to shop.

Song/Band of the Day: Maybe tonight – Kate DeAraugo (2005 Australian Idol)

Wed
15
Jun '05

My First Visit to Oz

Australia or Bust!

So, I made it here after one helluva plane trip, the longest leg of the flight from SFO to Sydney was about 13 hours long.  Squished between some English bloke on one side and an American guy on the other.  It was long and painful to say the least.  I’m not looking forward to my flight home by any means.  The time here so far has been good.  Rod has shown me around quite a bit and I have had about four driving lessons – you know it’s hard to drive on the other side of the road, I’m constantly having to say to myself “left, left, left” as I am making turns and pulling out onto roads. The car is basically reversed so the stick shift is left-handed and the turn signal is rightWe went to an AFL game (Australian Rules Football League) and saw the Melbourne Demons massacre the Collingwood Magpies by 45 points after being down at the half.  AFL is a cross between American Football, Volleyball, and Soccer.  If I can explain this right: a player in possession of the ball can punch the ball to another player, or kick it. The ball is shaped similar to our football, but with a little more rounded ends. There are four goal posts and if a player kicks between the two center goal posts it is 6 points, kicking between either of the outer goal posts is 1 point. 

The arena is a circle and twice the size of our football stadium arena.  The game is played on a circle, using a majority of the field you see here.  This is MCG stadium where our game was played.  This day was a game between two local teams and bigtime rivals – it was packed!  

   

At the game we saw there were 65,000+ fans in attendance.  Quite exciting if I must say so myself.  I’m kinda learning the rules still but the game was very interesting. Oh did I forget to mention they don’t wear pads! For pictures and more information check out http://afl.com.au

I’m off to continue with some interviews this week in my search for a job.  So far Rod’s family has been lovely, we’ve had dinner with them a couple times and we have plans again later in the week.  Melbourne is quite big – the city centre is enormous and there are four main areas that surround the main downtown area: North, South, East, and West.  We live in the East currently.  Each of these areas encompass the whole of Melbourne and the entire city runs about 70 miles in each direction from top to bottom and from side to side.  You can get a good idea.  In my travels to Europe, and to England in general I suppose I was expecting something more European here in Australia but it is quite the opposite.  They have American TV shows including Desperate Housewives, and the soap Passions, Amazing Race, and even Everybody Loves Raymond. The grocery store is quite like ours and they have many of the same products as we do. There is much more seafood here, as we are on an island, it’s cheaper and fresher and more available. In the morning there are no bluebirds chirping, but the squawk of Magpies outside the window – they look like crows with white beards and make an odd sound – probably the first thing I noticed that was very different about this place. The streets, roadsigns, the stores, and the trees (with some exceptions) really remind me of Northern California.  I think it will be an easy transition here for me and I am really excited to see more of the city as the week progresses.Thanks to everyone for checking in, and I will report back at the end of the week before I head back to the states.  For the rest of the photos from this trip please open the photo album entitled First Trip to Oz.