03 January 2006

Holidays in AU

Holiday greetings from Sydney. First order of business is the "seppo challenge." Our winners are Paul, Barbara, and Glenn, each of which correctly identified "seppo" as short for "septic tank" which rhymes with "Yank." Australians love puns, rhymes, and other word play. A similar example was in "Ocean's Eleven," when Don Cheadle's British character says "We're in Barney." When met with blank stares, he explains, "Barney Rubble," and when the stares continue, he provides the rhyme—"trouble." Bonus points to Glenn for calling me out on the use of a derogatory term prior to describing racial tension at Cronulla Beach, and for recommending the website www.realclearpolitics.com, a source of political news and information.
Good news: our favorite Indian restaurant has replaced their glass front and reopened, and cut their prices slightly. We have been back twice already. We do have some more good news/bad news, this time good first. The moths that invaded our apartment every day have largely disappeared. Bad news: they were apparently killed by mozzies (mosquitoes), which we spend every evening fighting now.
We have had a good holiday week. Heather was off this past week, and I am on summer holiday, of course. After opening gifts Christmas morning, we headed to the beach, where Heather unfortunately forgot to apply sunscreen to her stomach. The twenty-sixth was Boxing Day, and the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. We, along with an estimated 40,000 other Sydneysiders lined the harbour to watch the start of the race.
The first photo is of WILD OATS, the early leader and eventual winner of the race, setting a new record in the process. Eighty-five boats participated in the race, and hundreds of OTHERS CHASED THEM out of the harbour, as seen in the second picture. One-man sea kayaks, tour boats, and
everything in between were involved in the chase. Very near South Head Point, where we watched the race, is a NUDE BEACH, seen in photo three. Click and enlarge at your own risk. We chose to go to a different harbour beach for the afternoon. It was calmer than the open water beaches, but
smaller, murkier, and colder. Tuesday we took a break from the beaches to allow Heather's burn a chance to heal and hit the post-Christmas/Boxing Day sales, where we bought (what else?) beach towels. Wednesday, Heather's burn had actually turned purple, so she stayed home while I went back to the beach. She took Thursday off as well while I went to Coogee Beach to swim and play beach volleyball with Klaus, Heather's German co-worker. (I'm a little rusty.) Friday, Heather braved the sun again. We enjoyed the water, and I played some more volleyball. Saturday and Sunday was more of the same: sun, sand, and swimming. Heather is planning on getting to work early the rest of the summer so she can be at the beach by four. We encountered a new resident creature Sunday at the beach. We were out in the water, floating up and down on the waves, when Heather saw a clear bubble floating on the surface a few meters away. A man on a body board was near it, and gave it a closer inspection. When he said "jellyfish," Heather said, "I'm out of here." She then attempted to sacrifice me to the jellyfish so she could make her getaway. We saw two more as we swam to shore. A few minutes later, the lifeguards announced that bluebottles (known as the Portuguese Man o' War to the rest of the world) had drifted into the swimming area, and to swim with caution. We decided lying on the sand was much safer.
Saturday night was NEW YEAR'S FIREWORKS at the harbour, viewed in person by an estimated one million people. Heather said it was the best show she has seen, but I am undecided between it and July 4, 2004 in DC. Washington's show was longer, but Sydney gets marks for great timing: three
shows around the harbour were going on in perfect synchronisation (note the Aussie spelling) in addition to the fireworks on the bridge. Finally, I leave you with a picture of a NEW YEAR'S EVE BANNER which can be seen everywhere in downtown Sydney. For most of you, this is a simple holiday reminder, but for those at Dutch Fork Middle School, it is a familiar campaign slogan.
Happy New Year, and stay warm.

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