Thursday, September 27, 2007


I know I've posted about my work and Friday night drinks before, but this email really makes me laugh.

As you know Friday night drinks will be held here this evening.
Could I please ask that you throw away any old food you have left in the
fridge by 11am today. This is to make space for the beer / wine for tonight's
Many thanks for your help

I can't imagine a US company asking the employees to remove their food so the fridge could be stocked with alcohol. It's really the little differences like this that are the most amusing.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Don't Jump

Last Sunday Sherp actually had 4 hours away from SPie. We determined this is the longest waking time he has had to himself since we arrived in Sydney in May. That would drive some people to drastic measures, so I find it appropriate that he used his free time to climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I'm very glad that he did not jump. In fact, he couldn't jump if he wanted to because he was tethered to the bridge along with 12 other people.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is a very cool, but somewhat expensive excursion. There are stairs on the bridge and you actually walk to the very top while the cars and trains continue to drive underneath and the boats are further below. According to the website, the climb brings you 134 meters above the harbour. That's about 439 feet high. Sherp said the views are great as you might imagine.

Here's a shot of random people on the bridge that I took from one of the ferry boats. You have to look close because they are so small. There are two groups (one is a little spread out) on the very top part of the bridge.

This is the same shot of the entire bridge.

Here's Sherp striking a pose on the catwalk. The boats below are a lot farther down than they look.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Somthing Nice About Work

Since I had a negative comment about work yesterday, I feel I should say something positive today.

1. The people that work for my client are great. They are intelligent and easy going. No one takes anything too serious, but the work gets done.

2. Most days a big box of fresh fruit is delivered for everyone to share. I appreciate this so much more than the free soda at my office in the states.

3. Each month the company buys cakes to celebrate the birthdays in that month. My first two "real" jobs celebrated birthdays, but everyone in the office pitched in to buy the cake.

4. Each Friday an email is sent to everyone with a location for Friday Night Drinks. I don't go, but I think it's nice that everyone is invited.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Busy Work

Today I was asked to determine the following statistics for my team. The questions are from a very senior person who wants to use the stats in a meeting.

1. The number of documents produced
2. The number of pages produced
3. The number of lines of code produced

It took a developer an hour to go through all the procedures and determine the number of lines of code and it took me a half hour to determine the number of pages produced. Multiply that by 4 teams and that is 6 hours of wasted time. And this doesn't include the wasted time spent in emails from the top down until it reached the people that will actually do the work.

These numbers are meaningless. Just because a project has 100* documents and 10,000* lines of code doesn't mean that it's going well or that things are efficient. I would much rather spend my time on something that produces a result that is worthwhile.

*not the actual numbers

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Baby's Baby

Last week SPie received a lovely surprise in the mail - a baby doll and stroller. She is having a great time pushing the stroller around the apartment and taking care of her baby. This morning I came out of the bathroom to find SPie singing Rock-A-Bye-Baby to the baby. It was so cute!

The strollers

A hug for the baby

Monday, September 10, 2007


This is your friendly Public Service Announcement.

If you are travelling to another country, it would be a good idea to learn how to contact emergency services.

I was in a meeting and the man next to me passed out. I was so glad there were other people around because I would have had no idea how to call the paramedics. Plus, I thought he was just falling asleep because it was a boring meeting, so it's really good someone else saw it too!

In Australia 0-0-0 is equivalent to 9-1-1 in the States. If you know an emergency number for another country, feel free to leave it in the comments!

P.S. My co-worker is fine. He passed out due to low blood sugar and didn't even go to the hospital.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Tropical Queensland

It's going to sound like complaining, but I'm really not. We had a nice weekend, but it wasn't what I expected. In my mind we were going to have more of a resort vacation than what we actually had. If I remove the unmet expectations, we did have a good weekend.

We went to the state of Queensland which is in Northern Australia and much more tropical than Sydney. We stayed in the outskirts of the city of Cairns (pronounced "cans"). As one of my co-workers told me after I returned, "it's a bit dodgy." It's a beach community, but not a resort community. There are restaurants and shops and it's ok to spend a day, but you don't need to be there too long.

On the positive side, there is a great playground on the Esplanade called Muddy's. It didn't take long to find out why it's called Muddy's. There are water hoses in sand pits in the toddler section. What could be more fun to a 2 year old than getting the dirt and sand wet and making mud pies? Nothing! There are also water sprayers to run through which are great for the hot weather. The locals had their kids dressed in swim suits, but we are tourists and were totally unprepared. SPie got a few bumps and bruises from the zip line - her forehead had a nasty meeting with the pole attached to the seat when she hit the end of the line and her nose was bleeding after she ran into the seat in her excitement to get on it. None of this takes away from the slides, swings, and ropes which she had a great time climbing all over.

On the negative side, the Esplanade area of Cairns doesn't really have a beach. There is a long boardwalk along the water, but there is a good mile or two of muddy, grassy, somewhat swampy area between the boardwalk and where the ocean really starts. I'm guessing this is where the Muddy's playground got it's name. There was a man made public swimming "lagoon" with sand which looked great, but it's not the same as a natural sandy beach.

If I were to do it again, I would stay in Port Douglas or Palm Cove or one of the other local resort destinations.

On Saturday we did a tour that included a ride on a scenic railway up into the Kurunda rainforest village and a skyrail tram back down. The train is lovely and SPie enjoyed it. I was looking forward to the the skyrail tram and it didn't disappoint. I appreciate that the skyrail is a way to view the forest without doing any damage to the area and the views are great. The tram makes two stops on the way down the mountain where you have the option of getting off and walking along boardwalk paths to lookout spots to a waterfall and the forest valley.

If I had more time, I would have also liked to hike one of the Daintree trails. The tour we did was good and I recommend it, but it definitely wasn't an "up close and personal" type of experience.

Between the railway up and the skyrail down, we explored the village of Kurunda. It's a pleasant area with shops, restaurants and a few attractions. The shops seemed to be slightly less expensive or comparable in prices to other areas we've been to. There were more artist shops than we've seen in other areas which is a nice relief from the general tourist wares. There was one clothing and gift store called Serendiva full of bright colorful woven items from Sri Lanka. The fabrics were beautiful. I was "this close" to buying a nice bright beach bag, but I just couldn't justify the price when I already have so many bags - including a few I don't use.

Our day-tour included a visit to three attractions in the village; a butterfly sanctuary, a bird sanctuary and a koala garden. The butterfly sanctuary was great. SPie kept putting her hand out for one to land on her. When two butterflies did land on her she froze, then shook them off. They landed on her head and her shirt and I think that just wasn't what she expected. On her hand would be ok, but on her head wasn't as great.

I'm not a big fan of birds, but I thought the Birdworld was pretty good. If you like birds, it was probably great.

The Koala Garden had some cool crocs and lizards and an adorable baby koala. When babies are young, they sit on their mother's backs. The care taker was telling us this little baby had just started wandering on her own last week. She was pulling at the tree leaves, but wasn't old enough to eat them. She was really adorable, but she stayed hidden in the leaves, so we couldn't get a good picture of her. There were a few kangaroos and wallabies that could be hand fed, but they weren't hungry or active. It was very hot, so they were probably smart to just relax in the shade.

At the hotel we went swimming late in the day on Friday and after sunset on Saturday night. SPie was more into it Saturday night and even jumped underwater - not once, but twice! Both times I was right there to lift her out. Her fearlessness is good, but it also makes me a little nervous at times.

We ended the weekend by visiting the Botanic Gardens in the morning before our flight home. SPie was on the lookout for butterflies everywhere, so the butterfly sanctuary definitely made an impression on her.

One thing we didn't do was an excursion to the Great Barrier Reef. The tours were long and not exactly toddler friendly, so we decided it was best to skip it.

It was a good weekend, but I think this is one area we'll need to revisit when SPie is a little older (or maybe when she's away at summer camp). Maybe by then I'll be in need of a new beach bag too.

Butterfly on SPie's shirt (It was a coincidence that she was wearing a butterfly shirt!)
View from the skyrail.
View down - you can see the cables that the skyrail rides on:
The scenic railway train:

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Bush Week

I took my title from a newspaper headline I saw. The President's visit is a big deal here. News stories talk about the 600 + people from the US including Condoleezza Rice (Secretary of State), 5 chefs, 100+ secret service, 5 sniffer dog teams, aids, advisers and the journalists that travel with the President. There was a segment in the news about a military mobile command center in a jet that sits ready to respond in case of an emergency.

The security is amazing and it seems to be only for the US leader. The Australian PM has about 2 security guards when he moves. Someone told me that only the US security is allowed to carry weapons.

The President took a 5 minute cruise across Sydney harbour to Kirribilli house to have dinner with the Australian Prime Minister last night. The boat was flanked with security and before they went, divers checked the waters.

My client's main building overlooks the hotel that the President is staying at. Snipers are clearly visible on the roof of the hotel. They are also visible from some of the helicopters that follow the motorcade. We've all seen snipers on the news and on TV, but one coworker was a little rattled by actually seeing them outside the window from the meeting room. Personally, the most I've seen is the end of a motorcade, the traffic jams and the helicopters in the sky.

So far things have been peaceful. I've heard there is a protest scheduled for Saturday, but it may be a peaceful one. No matter what, we won't be here for it. We are leaving town in about an hour to visit the rainforest.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 3, 2007


APEC is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. The 2007 conference is here in Sydney this week; 21 world leaders including President Bush.

The government is expecting violent protests, so there is security everywhere in the CBD. Last week I saw police helicopters everyday on my way home, plus additional police patrols. Big fences and concrete barriers have been put up around some areas - including the convention center near SPie's favorite playground (ugh!!!). Street light poles have been equipped with security cameras and loud speakers and my office building has a security guard for the week. Fortunately, my building isn't right in the middle of it. My client's main building is, but I have no need to go there this week.

I don't follow the news because I find it depressing, but I did hear that some protestors were arrested for spray painting some sort of protest text on some wall. Just now I received this email from my employer:

Planned Protest Activity This Evening
Police have advised that the Stop the War Coalition is planning a protest outside Sydney Town Hall or Railway Square from 5pm today which could possibly move in the direction of Macquarie Street.
If you are planning to leave the CBD around that time, we suggest that you avoid the Sydney Town Hall and Railway Square areas, if possible, and stay alert to any protest activity that could move to the Macquarie Street vicinity.

It's a little frightening! My walk home takes me about 2 blocks from there and that is close enough for me. I usually cut through the subway station, but perhaps I'll take the long scenic walk tonight. Or maybe a cab?

The good news is that Friday has been declared a holiday to limit the number of people in the CBD area. I've also taken Thursday off, so we'll have a nice long weekend. Out of town.