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June 2007

May 2007

taronga zoo-ness

Meerkat_2 a busy weekend ends with a day off monday due to memorial day back in the states.  i took a couple friends around the city all weekend before finishing up monday morning with seeing one off to the airport. 

one of the things on my to-do list was finally completed sunday, a trip to the taronga zoo here in sydney.  i don't live too far from it, but i've always put it off since it seemed like i'd have plenty of opportunities to fit it in.  but after looking at my departure date which is coming up faster than i'd anticipated, it was time for the zoo.

i met up with A and M from work and we spent the afternoon walking through taronga's footpaths to see australia's common wildlife along with the other zoo's inhabitants. some of the other pix are on my flicker account but i'll put up a gallery link sometime soon. the one featured in this post is a meerkat.  sometimes the first shot is the best and can never be replicated.  just try to keep from smiling while looking at it.

bias upgrade



over the last couple of weeks, i've been the unofficial host to a couple of visiting staff performing a server network upgrade.  after several late nights, i think i set a personal record for five nights in a row where i was catching a mid-night cab.

it also gave our local staff a chance to dispel some of the misconceptions and educate visitors on the common venacular used in a pub or other common meeting place.  phrases such as "give me a schooner of VB, mate" were repeated with delight through out the day even though it was behind a server rack devoid of any alcohol in the immediate vicinity. i did my best to sway tastes to brands like coopers, squires, and other brews but i think carlton won out as a favorite among our guests.

i know what it's like to travel for computer system upgrades, so we made sure everyone occupied their any free time, however brief, to various landmarks ar0und the city.  one of the guys, M, even stayed a few extra days just to hang out in sydney.

after the project was over, i heard from the local staff that it was one of the best upgrades they'd had to do. i'd say it was in part due to both aussie and american cultures coming together and each learning a little more about the other.

they all scream...


Ice cream

these are the usual suspects, most of them by themselves is enough to make a calorie watcher run for the nearest self-help book.  when all are placed together, the end result is definitely evil..  as evil as homemade ice cream.

my plan was simple, make ice cream and bring it to work.  a couple of flavors to start with, chocolate and vanilla. nothing wrong with that. 

that was last week.  now i'm approaching pusher status with co-workers catching me in the hallway.  their queries, range from, "when's the next batch?", "i hear you're the guy...", and "can you make (insert flavor here)?"

now the word has reached the captial of canberra, a few hours outside of sydney.  email and text messaging are my publicists.  today-new south wales, tomorrow-australia.


our office of public affairs presented a preview of the movie "breach" tonight at the hoyt theatre. the true story centers on fbi agent and convicted spy, robert hanssen.

while i enjoyed the solid acting of chris cooper, ryan phillippe and laura linney throughout the movie, i was a bit disappointed with the very last scene. Not giving anything away, it felt like a producers heavy hand was involved in tagging it with a hollywood ending.  up until then it played out with a realism that didn't involved your typical action picture cliches. so if you're curious about how someone becomes a traitor to their country than you'll definitely enjoy the protrayal of the worst intelligence disaster in the u.s. history.

not only did hanssen give up names of contacts to the soviet union, (some resulting in death), he also cost the u.s. govt millions due to classified secrets that were revealed. truly an embarrassement for the fbi and a constant reminder of how one twisted individual can soil the history of entire agency.

now it's istanbul, not constantinople

hands, originally uploaded by nomadically.

this afternoon i went with some friends to a housewarming/birthday party. being the only yank in the room will come up occasionally, but it's not as noticeable in australia as it is in other parts of the world. when it does, you get the warm up questions, like "where are you from in the states?", "how long are you here?" and "where are you going next?" when the waters have been tested, then the harder questions start like; "isn't the war a bit of a mess?" and "what doya think about Bush?". I'm the first one to admit I have no right to use a casual party as a forum for events that I'm not an active participant in. I'm an american that has the right to vote and base their opinions on information we gather just like every other citizen of the u.s. that still doesn't make me an expert in what should or shouldn't be done during a war. does that sound like i'm taking the easier way out? read on.

that being said, i've been anti-war all my life. but the need for each country to protect itself is self-evident since the time of man began and territories were delineated. i may be against war but i'm also a realist. i guess my involvement in diplomacy is my contribution to that ideal.

diplomacy is about bridging the communication gap with foreign governments to ensure military conflict is never considered. the u.s. department of state seal is a simple reminder of this with the side profile of an eagle whose eyes are looking upon the olive branch it's holding in one talon and not the arrows in the other. a theory that is often difficult to maintain if other measures are prematurely sought.

"the history of a war is always written by the victors" (paraphrasing W. Churchhill), but if enough time passes you're able to look back and see the who, what, where, how and why's that were really involved. i'd say that's where my fascination in conflicts comes from, not the fighting itself , but what caused it. and is history ultimately repeating itself? do we forget what previous generations have already learned for us? or do we doom ourselves to the endless cycle of fighting for reasons not often clear until the dust settles. and will those current reasons differ from what historians will ultimately document when we have gone?

i like to believe my job is to remind us of where we've been to avoid that, maybe then the historians have something new to write about.