Tuesday, 11 October 2011

As close as I'll probably ever get to "livin' the dream" - experiencing a work week Down Under (Sydney Part V)...

And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City.  The Bull hit the treadmill tonight, where I am pleased to report a major upgrade at Fitness First.  Now I have to admit that, after joining, I was a little surprised that they didn't have the newfangled "plug your i-Pod into the docking station and charge it while you run" type treadmills, but they rebounded big today by rolling out the new model - a treadmill with touchscreen Solitaire and Connect Four!  Oh yes, Sammy the Bull ran 4 miles (at an 8:07 pace - don't think I was slacking) whilst playing Solitaire (I won 2 games, but clearly it's engineered so that you don't have to start over very often) and getting my ASS KICKED in Connect Four.  Who knew how much strategy was involved?  My only injury?  Rubbing the glass so much on the touch screen that I have blisters on my fingertips.  Yes - Fijian Golfer.  Go ahead - get it out of your system.

As I look at the three trim people in this photo, my first thought
is:  "Does the fleece make me look fat?"  I then hear Matt
Miller's voice:  "No, no, no - your face does."
Also, I simply gotta mention something.  The ridiculously long finger nails that all the dudes have here?  I can live with that.  The speed at which people walk?  I can live with that (barely).  But seriously, what is up with people SLEEPING AT THE GYM?  I mean, it's a rare day when there aren't multiple people PASSED OUT by the pool, in the chairs in the breezeway (some in WORK CLOTHES, mind you), or just LAID OUT on the floor.  And what amazes me is not only the fact that some of them clearly came to the gym, changed into the "Fitness First" gear, and then just went STRAIGHT TO SLEEP WITHOUT WORKING OUT, but it's also the LENGTH OF TIME they are passed out.  Seriously - I saw one dude last week who's mouth was open enough to park a Volvo in there when I arrived, and he was in the SAME POSITION (in his HOT blue banana hammock to boot) NINETY MINUTES LATER when I left.  I mean seriously...

Anyhoo, on the "travel widow" front, the Bull has settled into a routine:  work, exercise, blog, Skype, and then watch a movie.  The last 2 nights have both been winners, with Sunday's feature being "Red" (SO entertaining), and last night's being "Battle:  Los Angeles."  You know, I thought "Battle" would be terrible, but it was actually really entertaining.  Picture the cinematography of "Black Hawk Down" (and the action), but give more action (and less drama) than "Independence Day" (which I thought sucked).  Bottom line - it was worth the free rental.

Okay, so it's back to Sydney.  On Wednesday, I kicked off my 3 day work stint (don't worry immigration authorities - I was just there for meetings :-)) in Sydney with the BEST commute I'll ever have.  I picked up a flat white, bought my ferry ticket, and 2 minutes later I was sitting outside in the gorgeous sunshine as the ferry pushed away from Manly and headed for the Central Business District (CBD).  The ferry (same as the one I'd taken before) was just BEAUTIFUL - such a crystal clear day, and I really can't tell you how cool it was to dock between the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge before walking the 4 blocks to our office.  There, on the 41st floor, I settled in for three FANTASTIC days of work (Wild Card, don't worry - I was WICKED productive - just ask the good Doctor...) and had an absolute blast.  I was the only guy in the HR department (on the 41st floor, so with a nice view of the streets and the harbour in the distance), and when I showed up Sharon laid out the ground rules for me:  "I am in charge, Sam.  I make the rules, and I have decreed this a stress-free week.  There is to be no stress in here.  If you feel stress coming, go out and get a coffee, then come back."  I am happy to report that I was compliant every minute in the office.

The gang was great.  3 of the 5 people in the office are currently planning weddings, and so I learned about all KINDS of important topics that I never knew existed when Jenny and I got married.  And whilst there were plenty of topics that I found myself mesmerized by, let's just say that I now COMPLETELY understand the value of "expressing" ahead of the ceremony.   Wow...

The Northern Beaches are BEAUTIFUL, always with a row
of Norfolk pines (such super green needles) just off the beach.
Throw in a full moon, good, food, and good company, and
all is right with the world.
Seriously - the work days were terrific:  amazing commute in, great coffee (nobody does a flat white like the Aussies), a nice Spinach Fillo (AWESOME pastry, so probably about 12,000 calories), lovely weather, great lunch spots, and a terrific crew who welcomed me in and was a pleasure to work with.  It was EXACTLY like I thought and hoped it would be, and I must say that I do hope someday Jenny and I will be able to live and work down there.  Now is definitely not the time, but if we ever were to go abroad again, obviously Sydney would be very high on that list of possibilities.  But even if it never happens, I can say that I was fortunate to do it once, and it was everything I thought it would be.

Date night! 
Evenings were great as well, as we got a chance to go out with Dean one night (Manly Hotel - that was some guuuuuuuuuuuud pizza), Dom one night (great Asian wok meets Lebanese place overlooking the beach with a full moon hanging over the water), and then (thanks to a babysitter) have a couples date night!  We hit the Manly Wine Bar (which was really cool.  J-Wade - think "Beach Blanket Babylon" - just without all the chains and bizarre owner...wait...that didn't come out right...) for a glass of red (Aussie wine - so tasty and SO cheap after Singapore - it's the one thing that's a discount!) before rolling over to this GREAT Mexican joint for some excellent burritos.  Mexican twice Down Under.  That brings our total on Mexican (violating my law to never eat it outside of North America) consumption since being expats to 6:  twice in Singapore, twice Down Under (both count even though one was homemade and featured kangaroo meat - it's no more strange than the others), once in the Isle of Wight (who wants the quazzydillahs?  Say WHAT?), and once in Norway (where they had to ask the bar downstairs if they'd ever heard of a margarita being "frozen").  Truth be told - they were all tasty. 

I absolutely LOVE this photo - sorry to be sappy, but the look
on my face pretty much sums up every day of life with Jenny -
I love you, Muffin!
On Friday I met Jenny for lunch (ooooh, forgot to mention that I got one of the WICKED GOOD massive sushi rolls for lunch on Wednesday - so guuuuuuuuuuuuuuud - peppy cheekies) before she went on a Sydney photo shoot (but she'll have to tell you about that) about town.  We met outside the office after work and nipped over for a pint of James Squire at a local pub, knocking back one schooner (an American pint) before having a second with him (Rugby World Cup on the telly - all was right with the world) and then running to catch our ferry.  Dinner was at home, and we kicked back with some vino and a Cooper's sparkling ale (popular Down Under - that's one you can get in the states).  We hit the sack about 11, as this was the all important sleep night - 2 days before the big race on Sunday.  Granted, beer wasn't a GREAT idea, but at the time I thought a) I'm ready, and b) I'm on vacation - what's the worst that could happen?  Ah, famous last words...but you'll have to stay tuned for the rest of the story, when Sammy wraps up his version of events on the Southern Continent.

Lastly for the evening - CONGRATS, DARSHAN!  Granted, I'm a bit late with the well wishes, but better late than never, right?  AMAZING STUFF!

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print.  Chat tomorrow!


Sam and (I really, REALLY hope still dry and having a blast - I'm taking her radio silence to mean she's livin' it up...) Jenny

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