Monday, January 28, 2008

Best-Laid Plans of Blinds and Bed

There are two things I definitely need to get done today. Buy some Venetian blinds from Accent, and swap the metal bunk bed with the wooden single bed in my room. My sister and I was supposed to go to Accent Alexandria, but the grass in the backyard was so thick I decided to spend the morning mowing and weeding.

Not knowing whether it's an auspicious day for bed-moving, my Dad and my other sister went to this temple in Alexandria to get some advice. With only two people in the house, I thought it would be a good idea to invite GF to come over for lunch since she's a bit bored at home. She gave it some thought and decided to pass this time.

My sister called up to say that it's better to move the beds next week. Since they're at Alexandria already, they'll just buy the blinds. With nothing left for me to do, we spent the whole afternoon with Magic Sing. What a day.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Australian Open 2008 - Djokovic vs. Tsonga

I expected this match to be so good, I invited GF to watch the game with me at Martin Place on the big screen. We even got there an hour early and managed to secure a nice bench seat (instead of sitting on the cold stone steps). The match didn't disappoint. It was so intense, I had to be shushed and physically restrained. Tsonga's clearly the crowd favourite. When the match first started, most of the people in Martin Place were cheering for him. A few French guys were even holding placards. When he lost the second and third sets, I noticed now there were more people cheering for Djokovic. Bah!

Both players were quite good, but Djokovic's got the big-game experience. In the end, the 20-year old Serb won his first ever Grand Slam title 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Australia Day 2008

Same as the years before, we spent Australia Day in the CBD. First stop is Martin Place, where the A1 GP people have this huge inflatable dome of a pit stop with an A1 car on display. There's a competition going on to find out who can change the tyres the quickest. Winner gets free tickets to the races at Eastern Creek.

From Hyde Park all the way to the Mitchell Library, there were cars of all ages, shapes, and sizes lining Macquarie Street. Walking down the road, we visited the Parliament House of NSW. Took some pictures inside the council chambers, then crossed the street to St. Stephen's Uniting Church. There were some free recitals lined up throughout the day, unfortunately we can't stay for long.

Bought some sizzling sausages from the BBQ stand at Sydney Hospital, then proceeded to the Museum of Australian Currency Notes to cool off a bit. After watching a short historical video showing the construction of the Reserve Bank building, we proceeded to Circular Quay. The place is just packed with tourists and buskers and revelers. It's a wonder we were still able to get a table at the CQ Cafe. More surprisingly, the food is quite ok, and the prices reasonable.

We finished our lunch quickly, then went to the harbour to view the aerial acrobatics of the RAAF Roulettes. The planes gave off white-colored smoke instead of multi-coloured ones, but still fun to watch. My sister and Dad went to Manly via ferry, while my other sister and I went back to Hyde Park.

St. James Church is closed, so we continued on to St. Mary's Cathedral for some picture-taking. We stayed only for a while because I had to go to Darling Harbour to meet GF and her Mom and sister. We didn't stay long as there's not much happening at Tumbalong Park. The afternoon is too hot, and nobody wanted to wait another 4 to 5 hours to see the fireworks. After some hot corn and ice chocolate at Gloria Jeans, we went back home.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Australian Open 2008 - Djokovic vs. Federer

One of the most widely-anticipated matches in the Open. Everyone was expecting a Federer-Nadal final. With Nadal out, it makes Federer seem vulnerable. Djokovic has been saying that Federer is not the player that he was before, and that the new rising stars are ready to take him on. Is it time for the changing of the guard? Will the court jester unseat the king?

First set went to Djokovic. Both guys are just playing normal tennis; it's just that Federer is having less winners. I'm hoping this is just his strategy to make Djokovic overconfident, and finish him off later; although normally Federer rarely gives away any set. Later, Djokovic wins the second set. People start to feel the winds of change. I can't take the suspense much longer, so I took a break from the game and had a short chat with GF. When it came to a tie-break, I knew it was time. Went back to the TV to witness the dawn of a new era.

Djokovic wins in straight sets 7-5 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Australian Open 2008 - Tsonga vs. Nadal

Whatever happened to Nadal? Ali-lookalike Tsonga absolutely killed him out there in the court. While second-seed Nadal is drenched in sweat, complete with dripping hair, 38th-seed Tsonga only needs to dab his face with a towel here and there. The newer players are so good nowadays. I've never heard of players like Tsonga and Tipseravic before, and now they're giving the top seeds a run for their money.

Of course, you need good fundamentals, too. I also think self-confidence also counts a lot in winning a match. You can see that Tsonga is very assured. He's just like a rock, composed and unshakable. Whatever Nadal dishes out, he has no problems countering. In comparison, Nadal seems dazed and shocked. Unable to return the blistering aces and not able find his rhythm. Down 5-2 on the 3rd set, Nadal starts to smile 'coz he knows he's going down. Another ace from Tsonga and he's through to the finals. 6-2 6-3 6-2.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Australian Open 2008 - Sharapova vs. Henin

Another top seed bites the dust. I would've liked Henin to win, but The "Shrieker" Sharapova is just too powerful and too good. Tonight she can do no wrong. As for Henin, she's just making too many unforced errors. Sometimes it seems like her heart is not in the match anymore.

Sharapova and her shrieks are still all right (although I think Henin should've raised a complaint), but Yuri and his antics are a bit too much. Somebody ought to ask him what his throat-slitting gestures during the match meant.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Town Hall Tour (Part Two)

My second tour of the Sydney Town Hall. Wasn't as extensive as before. The only reason I came back for seconds is that I didn't bring my digital camera the first time around. With the Town Hall closing down for a major renovation, it might be a while before I can come in, and things might be different then. Wasn't able to take as many pictures as I wanted. For one, we're only a small group, so we're moving from place to place pretty quickly. We visited the Vestibule, then Centennial Hall with the Grand Organ, passed by the corridors, checked out the paintings and stained-glass windows near the staircases. Two, that's the end of the tour, folks. We didn't get to go up the clock tower. We didn't get to see the council chambers and the Lady Mayoress room. We didn't get to visit the basement burial grounds. Ah well, I still have to rush back to the office.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Australian Open 2008 - Djokovic vs. Hewitt

For a guy who just played five hours from midnight till morning the day before, Hewitt looks refreshed and alert. Having seen his other matches, I would say he's playing very good tennis tonight. Still, Djokovic is the better player. Head-to-head in a straight rally, Hewitt would've won, but Djokovic has more tricks and is more versatile.

Djokovic takes down Australian's last hope in straight sets 7-5 6-3 6-3.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Australian Open 2008 - Federer vs. Tipsarevic

Never heard of Tipsarevic (ranked 49th) before, but at start of the game, you already know this guy's a contender. He moves with great ease on the court, and he pushes Federer to the limit. Federer started the match a bit cautious. Normally, Federer has lots of surprises in his bag of tricks, but he's not using them much tonight. Tied at two sets each, the last set is the most exciting one. This is definitely crunch time, and there's a real chance of a major upset happening.

Tipsarevic opens the 5th set and holds. Federer banged down some aces and winners to hold. This tit-for-tat goes back and forth until we get to 8-all. Tipsarvic serves to 40-0. Federer claws back and gets the first crucial break in the set. From here, there's no turning back now. Federer serves out the match in four and a half hours: 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-1) 5-7 6-1 10-8.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Australian Open 2008 - Bagdatis vs. Safin

This highly-anticipated match could go either way. Baghdatis has the flair; Safin has the height and power advantage. Too bad he didn't make the most of them. Baghdatis is in top form tonight; a master of ball control. He is pushing the balls here and there, making Safin run. Safin is clearly getting frustrated. Good thing he didn't break any racquets tonight.

After the smoke has cleared, the Cypriot defeated the Russian 6-4 6-4 2-6 3-6 6-2.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Australian Open 2008 - Roddick vs. Berrer

Unseeded Michael Berrer played well tonight. Although against Roddick, he needs to play better. Berrer's a hard-hitter, and he has his own share of aces, but Roddick is still the better player. First two sets went easily to Roddick. Come third set, Roddick started getting frustrated because Berrer was returning his 200kph serves and making him run hard. At 3-3, Berrer made some critical mistakes, and he never recovered from there on. Score now 5-3. Roddick got 4 matchpoints, but it kept going back to deuce. Berrer managed to hold serve 5-4. Roddick eventually served out the match 6-2 6-2 6-4.

Funny part of the match was when Jim Courier interrogated Roger Rasheed about his comment about Venus Williams' "posterior" yesterday. It's obvious Rasheed doesn't want to talk about it, but Courier pushed on. They then showed a segment of sister Serena Williams' post-game conference, where she was asked what she thinks about the whole thing. This is what she said: "Posterior? Oh yeah, we say booty. I'll try to keep that in the back of my mind. What are you doing? I'm shaking my posterior. Venus definitely has a great posterior. I'm sure it looked nice."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Australian Open 2008 - Federer vs. Hartfield

As GF said, there's no fun watching Federer play because you already know what's going to be the outcome. Hartfield might win a point here and there, but there's no way there's going to be an upset. First set went down 6-0. First game that Hartfield won in the second set, you can actually see the relief and satisfaction in his face.

Federer wins 6-0 6-3 6-0.

Australian Open 2008 - Venus Williams vs. Zi Yan

There's no doubt Venus Williams is a top-notch player, but does she really have to draw attention to herself every time she plays? I'm talking about the big earrings and the big ring and the badly-designed dress. Her shorts are so short and skimpy, she had to tug at them after every point to cover her, um, "posterior". Chinese Zi Yan put up a good fight. Venus lost her concentration a bit on the second set, allowing herself to be broken twice. Fortunately for her, it didn't last long. Venus won easily 6-2 7-5.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Australian Open 2008 - Molik vs. Kanepi

Molik is losing her touch. Before the start of the match, I was thinking this will be like a walk in a park for Molik. Not true. First set went as far as 3-0 in Estonian Kaia Kanepi's favour. She fought back and won the first match 7-6 (7-4). It's not easy though, she had to fight hard for every point. It's the same for the second set. Molik eventually won 7-6 7-5.

Australian Open 2008 - Jankovic vs. Paszek

It's just the first day of the Australian Open, and we're having quite a drama already. World number four Jelena Jankovic plays world number 39 Tamira Paszek. Paszek came out hard and dominated the first set 6-2. Jankovic knew she's in deep trouble, but she held out and relying on Paszek's many errors, won the second set 6-2. For the third set, both players are really struggling, fighting for every point. In my opinion, Paszek is the better, more consistent player, but Jankovic is not giving up without a fight. At 7-7, Jankovic had to call for the trainer because of some back problems. At 9-8, Paszek had to do the same. It's turning out to be a match of wills and physical endurance.

After three hours and minutes, Jankovic finally won over Paszek 2-6 6-2 12-10.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Walk, Lunch, Mass, Dinner

Went to Rodd Park with some friends for a morning walk. We started around 8:50am. By the time we circled the bay, crossed the Iron Cove Bridge, and came back to our starting point, it's already 10:30am. GF made it through the 7-km. walk with just a sweaty forehead. Not too bad. Brunch is at this Vietnamese restaurant in Flemington.

Since GF missed her Sunday morning mass because of the bay walk, I brought her to St. Patrick's Church in Church Hill in the afternoon. Turns out it's the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus today. No special ceremonies though. After the 1-hour mass, we proceeded to Bicentennial Park in Rozelle/Glebe for the first Sydney Shakespeare Festival. Tickets to the outdoor play cost $25, but the organizers are offering a 2-for-1 promo for the first two weekends. I wanted to book the tickets online early on since there's no booking fee anyway, but GF suggested we buy at the gate since she doesn't think it'll be sold out anyway. Good thing I listen to her. It was drizzling earlier on, and by the time I went back to the car to pick up the lawn chairs, it's positively raining already. A few people braved the rains and sat under the surrounding trees. Not wanting to get wet, we ditched the play, and just had dinner at Broadway Shopping Centre. The title of the play? Much Ado about Nothing.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Wollongong and Kiama

Already my third time to Nan Tien Temple in Wollongong, and still I managed to get lost. First two times I mapped the route using the street directory. This time, I had a TomTom GPS navigator to guide me. Go figure. We thought we entered the correct address into the GPS device, but apparently not. Worse, we gave the same address to a friend who's meeting up with us, so both cars got lost at the same time. In the end, we managed to find Nan Tien Temple the old-fashioned way - by asking directions from the guy on the street. In case I forget, this is how to get to the temple. From the freeway, take the Five Island Road exit. Once you hit this big roundabout, take the first exit (left) to Gladstonbury. Further on, you see the temple on your right along Berkeley Road.

Nothing much has changed since I last came here. The only new thing I discovered in the temple grounds is this Gratitude Bell on top of a hill. It's about 7-10 minutes walk from the main temple. Unlike the drum and bell in the main temple, you can actually ring the Gratitude Bell using a hanging log. Just remember to put in a donation.

From Nan Tien Temple, we proceeded to the city centre. Parked at the Wollongong Central Shopping Centre, and had lunch at the food court. Then, off to the Kiama Blowhole Point. There's even less to see here. Aside from the blowhole and the lighthouse, there's not much else. Spent most of the afternoon down at the fish-and-chips restaurant looking at the birds and the pelicans.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Barbecue and Tennis

It was supposed to be a day of barbecue and tennis at GF's place. Bad weather intervened, so instead we fried and grilled the steak and sausages and drumsticks, and had an afternoon of karaoke. In terms of entertainment value, that Magic Sing beats tennis hands down. Everybody had a chance with the mic. Highest score for the day was 95. Guess who set it? :-)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Oaks Hotel Dinner and Kurraba Street Tea

Another last-minute dinner invitation from GF. Her good buddy is moving down to Melbourne, so the gang wanted to have a farewell dinner with her before she leaves. GF's lucky I'm anti-social and don't have much on during weeknights.

Long story as to why I'm in the office when I'm officially on leave, but there I was, so I hang around till 6:30pm. She picked me up from office and drove us over to The Oaks Hotel at Neutral Bay. The garden dining area was pretty crowded. Good thing we managed to snag a couple of tables to accommodate the group. We would've gone for the steaks, but it turned out that even at $24, you still have to DIY, so we opted for the Caesar salad and the Peking duck sausage pizza instead. Not the best, but not too bad. After we're done with the food and the picture-taking, we continued on to Kurraba Road for a nightcap.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Was supposed to go to Watson's Bay today, but GF doesn't fancy another long walk. So we ended up having spaghetti lunch at her place, then shopping for a rashvest at the swimwear outlets at DFO Homebush and Westfield Burwood for her cousin. Had coffee at the food court, then back to her house for some quality TV time.