Saturday, November 30, 2013

Very Long Silence

I can't believe that it has been over a year since I have posted anything, and yet I can.  It has been a very, very busy 15 months: there have been good times, bad times, stupidly busy times and a great deal of travel.  There has not been enough time to blog.  However, right now there is a lull, so let's catch up.

The latter part of August 2012 was consumed by a large Request for Proposal for a finance institution.  These things are a regular feature of life in my industry, and this one was about as much fun as every other one I have ever done.  It involved a great deal of hard work, and the outcome was disappointing, though not unexpected (well, I wasn't surprised, though I think the sales team were). September through November were busy but unremarkable.

In early December I went to Macau (via Hong Kong) for a company conference.  I got a day in Hong Kong, which I enjoyed: a little shopping and a walk through Hong Kong Park.  Here are some pictures taken in the walk-through aviary:

You would hardly know you were in the middle of a city as busy as Hong Kong.

Then I went on to Macau.  I had never been to Macau before, and I managed to get a day to actually walk around and look at it as a place.  The casino part is what you might expect: garish, vulgar and slightly tacky.  Look at this:

Yes, it looks superficially like Venice, but it's actually Macau. This is the facade of the Venetian Hotel.  They were determined to have Christmas with all the trimming, so there was fake snow everywhere:

That white stuff in the foreground is some sort of spray on "snow effect", and it had been sprayed everywhere.  I hate to think what it's made from.

The conference was good, though the hotel (the Sheraton), and the hotel's food were appalling - apparently the place was in some sort of "soft opening" state, and everything was amateur in the extreme.  Fortunately I only had to stay a few nights.

I got back to Sydney, has a couple of days to repack, and then we went to New Zealand.  Steve and I flew over together, and met up with Steve's Mum, who had flown over from Western Australia.  We had 3 marvellous weeks together, during which we saw things like Hobbiton, 

Rotorua's boiling mud pools, 

the art deco city of Napier, quite a few wineries and the glow worm caves at Waitomo.  We had Christmas in Wellington, and we spent a night in the Hobbit Hole room at Woodland Park.  We finished up by flying to Melbourne to catch the penultimate performance of "A funny thing happened on the way to the forum" with Geoffrey Rush as Lurcio.

Then, alas, we had to go back to work, and there was lots of it.  And then, in mid April, Steve's Mum died very suddenly.  She was 76 and, so far as we knew, in excellent health.  There was the sad business of sorting out personal effects, packing things to be kept and disposing of things that none of the family wanted.  Arranging a funeral, contacting people who might not have heard.  I am so glad that we had that last holiday together, so our last memories are happy ones.

Then there was more work, a massive Request for Proposal from a key customer.  It consumed my life for weeks, and we won it.  Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to discuss it.

I had to make three trips to the USA during the year, visiting Dallas, New York, Raleigh (North Carolina), Waltham (near Boston), Los Angeles and Sunnyvale/San Jose, so I have certainly racked up the air miles.

And now, as the year winds down, we are planning next year's trip, which we are calling "The Grand Tour".  I shall save the details for my next post.

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