Postcard from Wollongong

5 May

Greetings from Australia! it’s exciting (and always a little surreal) to be here, but the excitement has to battle the jet lag for a few days and jet lag usually wins. This means bedtime is 9:00 or 10:00 pm, with a first wake up at 4:00 am, followed by a trip to the bathroom and then lying in bed and hoping for a little more sleep until you have it’s a reasonable hour for getting up. At random intervals during the day you want to fall asleep, but you try to push through until what would normally be dinner hour. That’s not to say I mind it, but getting your body on a different time table can be difficult.

I’ve spent the first few days of my trip in Wollongong, remembering to drive on the left and watch out for massive spiders and their webs. I’ve taught a great clinic full of a lot of really cool officials. I’ve walked on the beach, made sure the Pacific Ocean is salty and tested out the exercise equipment that’s in an oceanside park.

There’s much more to say, but it’s bedtime now. I’m sure I’ll wake up a few hours from now, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for a little while.

The Other ANTM

30 Apr

One of the great things about flying Qantas is that you get to enjoy a pretty massive personal entertainment system that will entertain you for many more hours than your flight lasts. Case in point: It has four or five newer movies I’ve wanted to see, but it also had three episodes of “Australia’s Next Top Model.” Being a sucker for reality TV and having watched many a cycle of the American version, I couldn’t resist.

I’ve gotta say, it’s a little different than the American show. First off, during downtime when the models are just hanging around the house, many of them read actual books. For fun. I saw this happen twice in one episode and then again on another. When have you ever seen the American contestants read more than Tyra Mail?

Secondly, when an episode is teaching the models to face their fears by touching all kinds of strange animals, the Australian models have every right to be scared out of their minds because 90℅ of the wildlife in Australia will kill them–and the remaining 10℅ wants to but they’re just too lazy.

Thirdly, reality competition franchises get a bad rap when the judges aren’t as good as the original, and let me just say that Didier Cohen is no Jay Manuel. Didier is American (the Aussies can’t love our accent, can they?) and looks and sounds like he’s taken umpteen rounds of media training that’s designed to suck every ounce of personality out of him. I heard Miss Tyra summarily fired Jay, Nigel Barker and Miss J. Australia should snap up that motley crew (though I do like the Australian photographer guy) and put some life into the production.

Now, none of these differences made me stop watching, and I quickly went through the three episodes on the system–only three! They were just as captivating: posing, teens being teens, and in one, a contestant got sent home for choking another contestant.

OK, maybe it’s not so different from the American version after all.

Postcard from 50G

29 Apr

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Big place, or, as I call it, home for the next day or so. I’m off to Australia to teach officiating–and drive on the opposite side of the road, eat Lamingtons, and have an adventure.

This leg of the trip is JFK to LAX, and after a short stop, it’s on to Sydney. As I look around at my fellow passengers, I don’t see a ton of excitement, but I hope like me, all the glee is just under the surface and will bubble up once we spy  the Sydney Opera House on our approach in.

For now though, we’ll just play it cool, like the road warriors that this journey turns us into.

It’s the Kingier-Size Snickers

27 Apr

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This weekend the Boy and I stopped at a plaza on the Mass Pike to grab a drink and a snack while en route to a send off dinner for one of the Boy’s former co-workers. We grabbed our goodies, and the Boy went straight to the checkout line.

I, on the other hand, wandered around a little because you never know what you’re going to find. Lo, and behold, I found the biggest Snickers bar I’d ever seen. One full pound of chocolate, peanuts, nougat and caramel that was more loaf than candy bar. It’s meant to be cut up and shared, but you know there’s some trucker out there just gnawing on it for days.

“Hey, B!” I yelled.

He took one look at it and said, “Get it!”

I brought it up to the cash register, and this was where we learned one of the mysteries of pricing: It cost $14.99 for one, but you could get two for $20.

And this is why we showed up at a restaurant with two pounds of Snickers bar, which probably turned out to be much better than any dessert on the sub par menu.

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It's the length of a 20 oz. Coke!

Q1’s Domestic Goddess Move

24 Apr

Domestic goddess I am not, probably much to Ma Jaracz’ chagrin. I can tidy up OK, and if I have time to lean, I know I have time to clean–though you could come over right now and say, “Been busy, huh, Jill? How’s your Candy Crush Saga going?”

“Oh, I’m stuck at level XXX [I actually don’t know what level I’m on], and it’s one of those stupid ones where you’ve got to bring down the ingredients and there are bombs and there’s–”

“‘TIME TO LEAN’ DOES NOT RHYME WITH ‘CANDY CRUSH SAGA’! GET TO CLEANING!”

And I’d be forced to admit you have a point and that you’ve astutely noticed that I have issues with paper and books and putting away the laundry in a timely fashion, so I will scuttle off and take care of some of that right now.

Since I am not much of a domestic goddess, my idea of “spring cleaning” is also pretty minimal. Today though, my big move for this quarter of the year is tackling the coat situation. I’m declaring winter officially over, and we are not to wear the big, heavy coats again until late fall. I don’t care if we have a run of frigid weather around here. Layer up the fleeces and throw a lightweight coat over it. We’ll manage.

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Meet the Newest Addition!

23 Apr

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Oh, new HP Officejet Pro 8620,

You’ve just entered my life, and I can’t tell you how you’ve made it exponentially better. When I saw your feeder tray actually works and you could hold more than 50 sheets of paper, I was swooning. But wireless printing? Automatic duplexing?? I am printing all of the things double-sided from the other side of the house from now on! Let’s not even start talking about how I can scan and copy multiple pages onto one sheet. That just blows my mind–and the trees will thank you too (eventually….I’m certainly going through a lot of paper to figure out how all of your features work).

While I will always appreciate your predecessor, your capabilities are making me slightly regret that I didn’t bite the bullet and get you sooner, but maybe that makes me appreciate you all that much more.

Here’s to a long and happy life of printing, scanning, faxing and copying!

Your pal,

Jill

Killing the Hills

21 Apr

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Sunday in my neck of the world was one of those perfect weather spring days. Sunny, glorious, get outside. Today I’m also looking at a lovely sunny day, and I kind of want to ditch my computer (after I meet a deadline, of course) and go play. But yesterday? Patriots Day? Marathon Day? Completely sucked. Rain and cold combined for a pretty lousy day outside that probably played a part in how overwhelmed I felt by a lot of things going on (or not going on) in my life.

I hadn’t been to see the Boston Marathon in a few years–I was out of the country two years ago, and last year decided to avoid the crowds at the finish. This year I thought I’d check out a different part of the course, so I grabbed my cowbell and made my way to the start of the hill section and watch from there for a little while. I forgot to wear my waterproof shoes and grab a jacket that deflected water a little better than my windbreaker.

One of the reasons I don’t run marathons is because I can’t imagine running that far without causing some serious damage to my body. I’ll gladly do a 5K, and I’ve been known to train up to the 10K distance, but beyond that, my body just doesn’t like the pounding. I also don’t like listening to music while I run (and to be honest, I don’t like cheering for people who have their headphones in during the race) because I want to experience the race at its fullest. I also tend to have my running music going through my head regardless….though another reason that I won’t do races longer than a 5K is because I tend to either repeat snippets of these songs or mash them up, and if I had only a couple of minutes of the “Run Lola Run” soundtrack going through my head for four-plus hours, I’d go absolutely crazy.

The bigger reason I don’t run marathons is that for some reason, I get a little verklempt about the marathon as a goal. The massive numbers of people who’ve trained so hard for months, who want to realize this goal, and who are all doing it at the same time just overwhelms me. I can’t cry and run a marathon. Please. Where would I shove 26.2 miles’ worth of Kleenex?

So I stood in the cold rain for a couple of hours, cheering on all of the Steves, the Karas, the Heathers and the Mikes, the people running on Team Beef (best team name ever, Nebraskans!), folks from Denmark, Scotland, Colombia, Jamaica, Sweden, England, Germany, Brazil, Japan, this woman who’s planning to deliver a baby in six weeks, a 70-year-old guy who doesn’t look older than 60 and countless other people who were running for causes, running to win or running for themselves.

My favorite though was Brent from Alaska. He stopped by a police officer who was near me, gestured to the road and demanded, “What is this?”

The cop didn’t know what to say, so Brent kept going. “Are these hills?”

“Um, yes.”

“Let’s kill ’em!” And he took off running up the incline that would eventually become Heartbreak Hill. I’m kind of sorry I didn’t think to note his number. I hope he killed the rest of the course.

I wish I had killed the rest of yesterday, but I’ll be honest, some pretty big hills got in my way. Today’s a new day though, and it’s time to start climbing them again. Finish line’s just on the other side–not so far away.

Internet: I Need Your 80s Knowledge

17 Apr

My British friend is getting married in a few weeks and for the dancing portion of the celebration, she wants to play Kylie Minogue’s version of “Locomotion” and have me lead everyone in doing the dance.

What dance? There’s a dance specifically for this song?

We fly to YouTube. “It’s not from her video. I just remember doing it,” she said.

We couldn’t find any videos of Brits from 1988 who are doing this particular dance–not in the clubs, not in random gatherings, not on the streets. There are lots of different “Locomotion” dances on the Tube, but not the one she’s thinking of. I thought maybe it was particular to her area of England, but she said she was 10 at the time and didn’t really travel much.

I’ve asked around a little bit and have heard that maybe this dance could simply be a conga line, with everyone moving their arms in a steam train motion. My friend thought there was a little more to it, like the macarena (click on that link at your own risk).

Internet, I’m asking you: If you were around during the late 80s and were in Britain, do you remember this dance and can explain it to us? Help a bride and groom out!

The Derby Season Begins at Home

16 Apr

This weekend marks the home opener for the Boston Derby Dames 2015 season. Charm City will be in from Baltimore for a double-header featuring the Boston B Party against Charm’s Female Trouble, then the Boston Massacre facing Charm’s All-Stars.

I could talk about rankings, rivalries and gameplay. All of that is bound to factor into creating a couple of exciting match ups. As an official, the teams will just become colors to me, and I’ll be concerned about doing my part to make sure the game is played safely and fairly. I’m slated to track penalties for both games, as well as serving as Head Non-Skating Official (NSO) for the second game.

What makes this game exciting for me is that we’re going to test a game with fewer NSOs–the rules state that you need seven NSOs for a sanctioned game, but traditionally, having some extra positions helps with game flow. A couple of those positions came about when the game had both minor and major penalties, and they were necessary to make sure penalties were captured, tracked and displayed properly. Now that the game has only major penalties, do we need three people to track all of that?

I’ve done games with just a penalty tracker and inside white board (this NSO writes penalties on a white board that stands in the center of the track and serves as a display), and that seems to work. Now I would like to see if it’s possible to get the job done without the white board. If it’s possible, that’s just one test, one data point. We never know what gameplay will be

The first bout starts at 5:00, and the second starts at 7:00. Get your tickets today!

Was It Me? Get Your Tickets and Find Out!

15 Apr

Hey Friends!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be one of the featured storytellers at Story Club Boston’s monthly story night. Each show features a theme that three featured performers riff on, and there’s also an open mic for members in the audience who want to play along.

I did one of SCB’s shows last year and am thrilled to be invited back. It’s always a fun evening, and organizer Ken Green does a great job at bringing interesting people together and providing an encouraging environment for storytelling.

This month’s theme is “It Wasn’t Me!” which will feature tales of wrongful accusations–or in my case, perhaps it’s an accusation dodged. What did or didn’t I do? Come on down to the Milky Way Lounge in Jamaica Plain on Monday, April 27 and find out. The show starts at 6:30 PM.

Hope to see you there!

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