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Elephants and Restaurants

Hi everyone! We've had a fun-packed seven days (well, not all of them, but the majority were fun-packed).

While I was working on the database stuff, Vickie made a trip down to HardWareHouse and picked up an orbital sander, a jig saw, a small hand saw and baldes for the latter. We took to the book case from Dan and Lesley with the sander and varnished it; it's now nicely stained and positioned in our living room. It has no books on it, though; it ponly has three shelf-pegs, and we can't seem to find our supply so we can put a fourth in. I'm thinking of using the jigsaw for hacking my desk to pieces, and the hand-saw for any case mods I cecide to do. We still need a workmate (you know, one of those fold-out work benches), though.

After work on Wednesday, I took the train to Kingsford Smith Airport's domestic terminal, met up with Vickie and hopped on a Virgin Blue 737 to Melbourne. We spent Thursday nmorning being given a tour of Melbourne Zoo by Jacqui, Vickie's eldest; they have a pair of Asian elephants named Mek Kapah and Bong Su, and a wonderful new elephant enclosure with lots of space for them to roam in. Taronga may have a better view, but Melbourne has much more room for its animals, so that they don't get bored. In my opinion, that makes it the better zoo.

In the afternoon, we went to the primary school of Jacquie's daughter, Katie: It was Grandparents and Special Friends Day, and Katie had invited us both. We were treated to a presentation of poetry, singing and dancing, a tour of the school and some kid-made treats (including lots of chocolate, icing and other sweet stuff). Then it was off for dinner at a great Teppanyaki restaurant. If you've never had Teppanyaki before (as I hadn't), you're missing out on a treat - the food is cooked at your table (in fact, the tables are arranged around the teppanyaki hot plate). Our chef, a Japanese gent named Jack, was very witty and made the whole evening even more fun. Near the end of the meal, you get the (dubious) honour of catching an egg and a bowl of fried rice in your bowl; I managed to nab my egg, but got the fried rice down my leg!

The day was wrapped up by watching The Emperor's New Groove, which was, frankly, hilarious. I'm very sorry we missed it at the cinema.

We were up at five thirty on Friday morning to catch a flight home. After resting up for a while, Vickie went to work, and I went over to Nick's place for the evening. He showed me some preliminary notes for a Weird Wars convention module he's working on (set during World War II, of course) and I gave him some general computer advice. He also loaned me his Game Boy Advance and some games for it (which are fun, but nothing that'll make me run out and buy a GBA SP) and The Crimson Rivers, a great French thriller starring Jean Reno. We watched it yesterday afternoon, before heading out to Cazman's birthday party. Vickie had the plot figured out within the first twenty minutes, as usual. The really good part was that the three principals - Jean, Vincent Cassel (whom I'd like to see more of) and Nadia Fares - all re-recorded their parts in English for the international dub. Most enjoyable, if rather gory in several places (Vickie reckons that its MA 15+ rating was too lenient considering the content).

Cazman was gracious enough to give us a lift to his own Birthday Party last night. We dined at the Unkai Japanese Restaurant, on the 36th floor of the ANA Grand Harbour View Hotel. The food was a little ho-hum - I admit, I'm not fond of seafood, let alone uncooked seafood (I had chicken and meat at Teppanyaki) - but the company was good. I got to catch up with the Cazman's old mate Andrew, who I met on a trip to the snow with the Cazman and EvilHayama in 1999, and Vickie wound up chattign with Caz's friends Katie and Melinda. EvilHayama and Pirotess were also there. We learned that Cazman's lady, Linda, is Russian (presumably on her mother's side), and can speak the language, although she can't read or write it. After dinner, we pootled down to the lounge on the ground floor for cocktails. Vickie and I shared a Toblerone, a very nice chocolate-based cocktail. Unfortunately, as the evening wore on, I became more and more exhaused; we departed at 11.30, with EvilHayama and Pirotess not far behind.

Today's going to be a lazy day; once I get this news post up, Vickie and I will be trying to off the Greater White Dragon in the third chapter of the Neverwinter Nights campaign. It's a real bastard to kill, even with an amulte that gives protection from cold.

In general news:

I'm glad to report an as-yet unsubstantiated rumour that Soup Plus, the jazz restaurant that closed its doors a couple of months ago (seemingly for good) is Back Open in its original venue. The rumour comes from a trusted source who has good reason to know - his son is a muse-o and has played a few gigs there - but we've not been into Sydney to verify it yet.

My Anarchy Online membership, reactivated for a month as part of the Notum Wars trial, has expired; it's no great loss, as I didn't play it again after I last mentioned the reactivation in a newspost a month ago.

Marcus has announced a LAN party, which he's dubbed LabLAN; unfortunately, the details are confusing and conflicting. I'm trying to clear the situation up with him, but he's yet to reply to my e-mails or voicemail messages. You'll have more detail when it eventuates. I've also heard nothing further from Boots, who also wants to run a LAN party sometime soon. I will admit to being a little leery of LAN parties in general, but if they're being organised by good friends and are comparatively close (the last one I attended was in Blacktown, which was a bit too far), I'd be tempted to give it a go.

I'm also having a little fun with Credit Union Australia at the moment; Visa rejected my CUA card application, as I hadn't had a CUA account for six months and my full pay wasn't going in (annoying, as I wanted to make sure I had card access before I started putting my full pay in). I'm working on a MasterCard application at the moment.

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