07 December 2007

Lucky Sevens: Election Day

Two weeks ago was election day, and George Bush's little buddy, John Howard, and his Liberal government were voted out. Note that 'Liberal' is not used in the normal American sense, but rather refers to the Liberal Party of Australian, who are politically similar to the Republicans. Kevin Rudd, leader of the Australian Labor Party, is the new Prime Minister.

Rudd kept a campaign promise and signed an international convention, leaving the US as the only industrialised nation in the world to not ratify the agreement. Your Lucky Sevens question: What is the international convention ratified by Rudd and the new Labor government this week?

05 December 2007

Hawaiian holiday

In the middle of November, Heather and I took a trip to Hawaii for her sister's wedding and a little holiday. The weather was great, the beach was fantastic, the turtles were out and the beach front wedding was beautiful. In short, it was a welcome holiday.
We didn't spend all our time on the beach, though. My father-in-law and I played a round of golf at Kapalua Bay, site of the 2008 Kapalua LPGA Classic. Paul and I each hired a set of clubs--Titleist, and yes, clubs make a difference. We each hit several shots too well, flying well over the green from 150 yards out with a seven iron, expecting to hit it 140. On the 18th (actually the 9th--we played the front nine twice due to some work being done on the back nine), I hit my tee shot 310 yards, with a 3-wood, easily my longest drive ever. I shot a 94, and given more experience with the clubs, I could have easily shot in the eighties. I'm certainly willing to give it a go as soon as Heather gives the green light for a new set of Titleist irons. The only part of my game that let me down was my putting, while Paul was getting up and down from the fringe of the green the entire round.

On Wednesday Heather rented a car, a Mustang convertible, one of approximately 257,000 on the island. Verdict: looks good, but it's not that great. The wedding, however, was very nice. The Pacific Ocean makes quite a dramatic backdrop for a wedding ceremony. The daughter was given, vows were spoken and the husband and wife were pronounced without a hitch. No wind-blown sheet music, tripping brides or awestruck flower girls here. It was a small family affair, followed by pictures, cake and more pictures, to allow for the changing lighting conditions. And even the Mustang seemed better on the way back to the hotel, once we could put the top down on it.

We still had a couple more days to relax in Maui after the wedding, and Heather and I spent one of them driving up Haleakala, a 10,023 foot volcano. I enjoy driving on cliff edges, but that's not Heather's favourite experience, especially when you leave the clouds behind at 6,000 ft. She is pictured here above the crater, and you can see the clouds just beginning to roll in the mouth of the crater. Visitors are informed at the site that if the wind is blowing right, the entire crater can be filled with clouds within five minutes. Next time you are in Maui, I'd recommend a visit, but here's some free advice: wear warm clothing. You might be catching rays on the beach later, but at the top of Haleakala, it's a bit nippy.

A holiday is always welcome, but this was a particularly special one, as we spent it with family, both old and new. I congratulate Craig and Michelle on their wedding and thank them for sharing it with us.

03 December 2007

Catching up

Things have been awfully busy around here lately. When I last posted, I was sitting in the airport in Honolulu. We spent a week on Maui for my sister-in-law's wedding and played tourists in Sydney again when Heather's parents visited. Right before all that, I finished my first semester of my Masters program. Needless to say, I have a lot to catch up on and am still gathering my thoughts, not to mention all the pictures.

So as I figure out the best way to catch you up on everything, I wanted to share an article with you from the Dallas Morning News. Please see New A&M coach Sherman has heart of a champion. I'm no fan of the Aggies, but my cousin, Steven Ramirez, was, and the article details the very special relationship between him and Mike Sherman.