Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Back to the Grind

Here I am back in the office. Again, I am struggling to reacclimate to Eastern Daylight Time. My workload is not too bad so far, it's a little busy but expected since I haven't been in for a week. I need another vacation.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


It really sucks to have a cold and get seasick at the same time, especially when accompanied by a splitting headache on one side of the head. Off-roading and canoeing in the rain in Ketchikan probably were not the wisest activities, but my brother really wanted to so I took the excursion with him. I doubt I will ever do another 4WD trek again. Not only is it not so eco-friendly, it's not very lumbar-friendly either. If you are not holding onto the "oh-$hit" bar in the fron passenger seat, you really get tossed around.

A little bit about the Norwegian Star: this is a massive ship. It holds approximately 2,900 passengers. It has not felt too crowded, though., but the stewards assured us that every cabin is full. The decor evokes old-school Vegas, over-the-top tack, particularly in the Grand Atrium and the corridor carpeting. Rooms are really small, but the balcony my parents had was key for having a good view of the scenery and was worth the higher price. Food-wise, it ranges from mediocre cafeteria to decent restaurant fare. It's not quite five-star gourmet, but they offer choices from Cooking Light that taste good and won't bust the waistline. The highlight was the Chocoholic Buffet late Friday night. My dad claims I ruined his evening by not being able to locate him, which was all but impossible with the hoardes of people lining up to ogle the chocolate sculptures and scarf enough sugar to kill a shipful of diabetics, but I nonetheless enjoyed my chocolate mousse and petit fours solo and went back to bed.

Victoria, BC, is a delightful city. We endured a bus tour with a wannabe-Borscht-Belt-comedian and then enjoyed tea and the Fairmot Empress Hotel. On the way out, I even got a stamp in my passport - two pages to go!

My Filipino stewards were really friendly (half of the on-board staff if from the Philippines), one a little too friendly. Initially he thought my brother was my husband (hello? Separate twin beds?), but when I corrected him that my boyfriend sat this trip out, he felt more emboldened to be more affectionate. He told me I looked beautiful when I was in a ratty t-shirt and sweats, and when we gave him a tip he gave me a big hug. I was getting blips on the gaydar. Who knows...

The flight home was a nightmare. Despite being among the first off the boat, avoiding the baggage claim by hauling our own crap, the flight still managed to take off an hour late and then had to circle over Newburgh, NY for 30 minutes. The cab line was over an hour long, so I took the AirTrain. It's good to be back in my own bed, although occasionally I am thrown off-balance by hallucinations of the boat rocking side to side.

Tomorrow is back to work. Delightful.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Alaskan Adventures - Juneau/Skagway/Glacier Bay

Many people may not realize that southeastern Alaska, where all the cruise ports are located, is a temperate rainforest. In addition, the reason we got decent prices on this last cruise of the season is because the "rainy season" has commenced. In Juneau we hiked a few miles next to the Mendenhall Glacier in the rain. The tour guide was very knowledgeable about medicinal uses for the local plants and had good dimples, so that was a decent distraction. Our bike tour down a mountain in Skagway had to be truncated by 5 miles because the cloud line was 10 miles up the mountain. Biking in fog downhill is pretty neat, but most of the scenery across the valley was hard to make out.

Glacier Bay was by far the highlight of the trip. The boat is only allowed to go a couple knots per hour, but it was perfect for getting good pictures and looking for wildlife. We even saw the Johns Hopkis Glacier "calve", meaning that big ice chunks broke off of the glacier and tumbled into the water. It makes a noise similar to rolling thunder heard from several miles away. Awesome! The water in Glacier Bay ranges from blue-greenish to brown because of the sediment in the glacier.

Three more days to go...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cruisin' for a bruisin'

Today we embark on a week-long cruise to Alaska for my parents' 35th wedding anniversary. My mom fell down the stairs and broke a rib last week, and is currently taking "happy pills" (Vicodin) just to get through the day and then sleep. Of course we didn't have travel insurance (not that it would have made a difference - my friend's honeymoon to France last November was not refunded even though train stations were being firebombed and thousands of cars were torched every week).

The flight over was interesting. There was a gaggle of German uber-butch lesbians - cropped hair, unshaven armpits, facial hair, the works - as well as a bunch of Ukrainians who apparently have never seen a stick of deodorant. Friggin Delta would not upgrade us all on miles - I swear to God, why do I bother maintaining silver status if I can never get any benefits out of it?!?!? Will try to take care of upgrades at check-in on the way home.

For reasons I don't really want to go into (besides mom's broken rib), I have come to the realization that I really don't want to be here. Hope the week goes OK.

Friday, September 15, 2006

In Memoriam

Found out some sad news today. A friend of a friend, who moved around the corner from my place a few months ago, and whom I met before my birthday this year, died suddenly over the weekend. I feel terrible. Had been meaning to email her and some other friends while I was away, but was just sh*t with email for two months. I had been planning on taking her out in the nabe and also going out for brunch with her and my two other friends, including our mutual friend. She had a condition that can cause life-threatening complications, but this came as a shock to everyone.

Rest in peace, E.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Settling In

I've been back for almost a week. It's great to be home, but I miss Australia a little bit. I still have a list of things to do when I go back:

  • snorkel the Great Barrier Reef (sharks and stingrays be damned) - will take my brother and cousin on this excursion
  • go to some of the other beaches in bathing-suit weather, like Manly and Coogee
  • party in "the Cross"
  • visit Melbourne, and maybe Brisbane
  • trek through the Outback
  • pat koalas, kangaroos, wombats, and any other pat-able Aussie critters at the Featherdale Animal park
  • see New Zealand, Bali and Fiji since I'll be a stone's throw away, relatively speaking

Visited J's folks today. My mom's recipe corn salad went over pretty well, but the McWilliams dessert wine was a huge hit. The 375ml bottle was empty within 10 minutes. Guess I know what to bring next time.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Very shocking to wake up after getting back from Oz and hear about Steve Irwin. What was even more heartwrenching is that he died the day after Ozzie Dad's Day. He and his daughter were interviewed for Marie Claire's Father's Day special: (from NYPost):
Bindi Irwin gushed, "I love that he's funny, he's entertaining, and he's always there when I need him most.
"I'm proud to have a dad like that, one who takes on conservation issues around the world. I love him very, very much."
It was part of Steve Irwin's final interview, one he particularly cherished because it included photos of him and Bindi, with whom he was filming a TV series before he was freakishly killed by a stingray Sunday off Australia's Great Barrier Reef, Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported.
Irwin admitted to the mag that while he had been refusing interviews of late, he wanted to do this one because it was "something he and Bindi could do together," a spokeswoman said.
"I'd do anything to spend time with my daughter," the dad said, obviously bursting with pride that his budding-adventurer offspring was following in his footsteps and is "passionate about animals."

[sniff sniff] The world lost a good one.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I'm On My Way!

Currently hanging out in the oneworld lounge in LAX. Due to the remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto slamming into the northeast, I am stranded in La La Land for 5 hours. The 14-hour flight from Sydney was quite pleasant. Watched Basic Instinct 2 (God-awful) and The Castle (an Aussie comedy a co-worker recommended), did some crocheting, and cut through a wretched book that I just finished here. Hoping my case of wine makes it intact to NYC. Made it through customs without paying a cent of duty on my 7.1 liters of wine and .65 carat black opal - ROCK!

One thing I don't understand - why do parents insist on traipsing very young children on long plane journeys? Two toddlers screamed their heads off during descent into LA because they could not release the pressure in their ears. The brood was sitting in biz class no less. ARGH! I am not ready for childrearing.

My wine importation crisis is averted - I found a store in Jersey that carries most of the labels for ANZ that I like. Look out for Hungover Down Under coming next month! I need to recover from this trip and Alaska first.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Party Monster

Haven't Oxbridge students heard of e-vites? This is priceless. Soon potential employers will be checking MySpace comments and Friendster testimonials in addition to doing background checks, just to make sure they don't come across any psycho prima donnas like this one...

In less than 24 hours I will be on my way! Breaking out the champers (champagne) at quitting time. (Thanks to DB for bringing it over on Sunday.)