Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Upcoming weekend

I know it's only Tuesday, but I felt like blogging and I couldn't think of anything to write...so I decided to talk about my upcoming weekend plans.

This Friday night, Oklahoma City will play host to another New Year's Eve with a Thunder game. The Thunder welcome the Atlanta Hawks into the Oklahoma City arena and right after that, the Cox Convention Center will see many of those Thunder fans "change hats" and join in the impossible-to-not-have-fun Flaming Lips concert...I am one of those lucky fans.

Granted, I am not just a Thunder fan and this is the one game a year that I wish I didn't have to do post game interviews so that I would have more time at the concert...but hey, when you have the best part-time job in the world, it makes it difficult to complain.

After my Thunder game duties are complete and I scurry over to see my 6th Flaming Lips concert (photo is Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne and I on Halloween, I dressed up as him), and after the Lips concert heading outside to join the other (anticipated) 75,000 Oklahoma Citians for the midnight countdown, I will head home...to rest up for an even more memorable event the following day.

On Saturday, I am heading up to Green Bay to watch the Chicago Bears take on the Green Bay Packers. If the Packers when on Sunday they will clinch a playoff berth and if they lose...(cue depressing music). I grew up having a very sports-oriented family, one that clung to the Packers for football and the SF Giants for baseball. There was never a "favorited" NBA team constantly rooted for (which is a good thing as it made becoming a Thunder fan an easy transition). So, I became a SF Giants fan by default and ended up going to the 2002 World Series to watch them lose to Anaheim and also went to the 2010 World Series in Texas to see them thump the Rangers. In football, the Packers lure didn't stick. I really didn't even get much into having a favorite team until I graduated high school and went to college (2001) and it was then that I decided I needed to have a favorite NFL team (you know, because that's what 'men' do). At the time, Peyton Manning seemed like the young QB that I felt was worthy of enough of my weekly cheers.

This Sunday, while at Lambeau Field, I will have my iPhone on getting updates on every Colts play as they play host to the Tennessee Titans...I'm not too worried about that game.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Week

This past weekend was jam-packed with Christmas parties and family get-togethers.

It all started last Thursday (Dec 23) when I headed over to my friends' Blake and Holly's where everyone (roughly 30 people) participated in the annual tradition of the game "The 12 Beers of Christmas." This game (run by numerous home brewing fanatics)is where 12 relatively unknown beers represent a line from the famous "12 Days of Christmas" and everyone partakes in a couple ounces from each brand (a couple of the brews were brought from the guests). I stress "a couple ounces" as this functions merely as tasting different beers and not overindulging.

As this goes on, the host and a few guests begin brewing a barrel of beer to be served at the next annual party. Always a great time.

At midnight, we all sang Happy Birthday to Marek as she turned 27 (I figure it's ok to say how old girls are until they reach 30...then it is a repeated 29th birthday, I'm told).

The following day, Dec. 24, we had my family's Christmas get-together (Mom's side) which contained a luncheon at my parents house. yum yum yum. We sang Happy Birthday to Marek and had a birthday cake for her. It was a great time!

We had a total of four children at the Christmas palooza (parents house) ranging from 3-9 yrs old which makes opening presents so much more fun.

We also played a family tradition card game called "Pass the Wienie" in which the lowest card dealt is labeled "the wienie" and you must get rid of it by passing it to another player...very simplistic game that makes for about two hours of fun and the winner gets to take home the trophy until next year (the trophy is a 1989 last place trophy of a horse's butt "won" by my granddad in a golf tournament).

The next morning (CHRISTMAS!!) I headed back over to my parents house (I was the only one on the road) to eat my mom's famous breakfast casserole. SO GOOD! It's a meal I look forward to all year long.

After eating I hopped in the car and headed up to Pawnee, Oklahoma to see Marek and have Christmas with her parents. There were LOTS of people at her grandma's house with lots of food (I need to start exercising).

After numerous conversations with many great people, I said my good-byes and headed back down I-35 to get ready to work at the Thunder game (vs. Nuggets).

Kevin Durant was on his way to a career high in points (47) when he ended the thrd quarter with 40 points...but sitting the first 4 min of the 4th and then taking on double and triple team defenses late in the game limited him to 44 (season high).

I am getting more excited as the calendars pages fall and I plan my next trip.

My last big trip took me to Australia where I went to Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns but this time I think I am headed back over the Atlantic to Europe.

Early thoughts are to buy a round-trip to Madrid and head to south Spain for Sevilla/Granada for a couple days traveling via speed train. Then we are to buy a 3-day round trip to Rome.

While this looks to be the first trip to take me cities that I've already been to, I think it will be nice to show up at a familiar place already knowing what currency and language to expect.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

So long 2010

I once read that the most common first line of any personal blog is, "Sorry it's been so long since I last blogged!" and that is exactly how I feel about my blogging experiences.

It's been so long!

Last year I wrote a blog about 2009 (http://bit.ly/eociyv) so I think it is only fitting to start recapping 2010.

I didn't do near as much traveling as I did in 2009 but I still was able to venture out of Oklahoma for a bit.

In March I went down-under to Australia. Australia was a very unique trip. It was definitely a little outside of my comfort zone. The flights were between 15-17 hours at a time and a total of 24 hours getting there which was quite rough on the body, especially when you only have 5 days to spend there and come back to Oklahoma to go throught the jet-lag all over again.
In Australia, I got see a professional Cricket match in Melbourne, watch tons of rugby, try to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef and surf on the coast of Sydney. Australia, I could live there, but for future travels, I think I'll stick north of the equator.

I bought a car this year (nothing fancy, '03 Civic) but it was a huge upgrade from the 17-yr old 190,000 Honda Accord I was driving...how I was able to pick up a girl like Marek in that car is beyond me.

The OKC Thunder finished the 09/10 season with 50 wins...obliterating the season before's 23 wins. As I write this, they are 26 games into the 10/11 season and are 18-8 and on pace for 57 wins. The team is incredible to watch from the stands and I constantly remind myself how lucky I am to transcribe player interviews after the home games. Not only do I get to witness their dominance from the stands but I actually get to see their character "behind the scenes" and these guys are the real deal. Over and over I've witnessed acts of kindness from these players when the cameras are off...great things that just can't be found throughout other teams around the league. We are not only blessed to have a team from the NBA in OKC, we are blessed to have THIS team from the NBA in OKC.

Maps 3 passed in 2009 and we just had the one-year anniversary of the historic date. As coalition teams are being formed and locations/details are being hammered out, one bit of great news has come about...sales projections. The penny sales tax is generating more money then the analysts figured...and that's a good thing considering the haters of Maps 3's complained we wouldn't reach the $775million goal at the end...haters will hate.

Sandridge also began the destruction/construction of their complex:

This has been exciting/depressing to watch. I'm sure the final product will be MUCH better than watching the dilapidated buildings sit there for decades but (as a fan of history and urban development) it was kind of sad to see the buildings get knocked down and not put to use.

Devon is currently constructing their 24th floor (of 50). Cranes are now taller than the Chase Tower (Cotter Ranch) and everyday I get to walk in view of the entire building during my two block walk from the parking garage.
Project 180 started this year, "the three year, $140 million redesign of downtown streets, sidewalks, parks and plazas to improve appearance and make the central core more pedestrian friendly" which has completely put every downtown worker in a frenzy. It seems like every road is torn-up, closed or down to one-lane. Crazy stuff.

On a more personal level, dad was named Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine and the World Mayor Project named him the 2nd best mayor in the world...sometimes all the accolades still don't balance out the negatives said by the few online trolls trying to make a name for themselves.

I got my first dog this year! Mr. Bogart Cornett (Bouvier des Flandres). He is spoiling me on owning a dog. Best dog ever.

I am still working at Jones PR and recently got promoted to Account Executive. It was a happy/sad week as getting promoted is great, but the same week my working mentor, THE Sam Sims, moved on to another company...the random Family Guy comments around the office have now sadly stopped.

In world news, the BP oil spill this summer was probably the biggest man-made disaster Mother Earth has had to recover from.

33 Chilean Miners were trapped underground for 69 days.

The SF Giants won their first World Series since 1954 (I got to go to game 4 in Texas and watch Bumgarner dominate).

The Colts lost to the Saints in the Super Bowl. booooooooooo

Facebook surpassed Google as the most popular online site, currently boasting 550,000,000 and company CEO Mark Zuckerberg was named Time Person of the Year.

So long, '10. It's been fun.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My experience with AutoMax Hyundai on I-240

UPDATE: I just received a phone call from the owner of AutoMax, Max Fairchild. It is amazing what a calm ten minute conversation with someone in charge can do for a customer that has had a bad experience. AutoMax is handling the situation with my car with no charge to me and the issued seems to have been resolved. Max sincerely apologized and chatted with me about any possible way they could make this a better situation. He gave me his cell phone number and wants me to call him when I pick up the car to make sure that everything is how it should be. He let me know that the behavior his employee showed me was is in no way a good representation of his five dealership locations. Just in conversation, I mentioned to him that I work downtown and he invited me over to his downtown office to meet me personally.

Thank you, Max, for taking the time to prove to me that your dealership does care about customer satisfaction and that my case was one of the rare negative moments.

Below is the story on my experience. While it does paint a very negative experience and a case of terrible customer relations, the problem has been resolved and I am now back to being a satisfied customer.

I finally got rid of my 1993 Honda Accord and bought a 2003 Civic Hybrid last month and I was a little giddy to finally have a car that had an antennae, had a radio that wouldn't fall out of it's "holder", had no signs of rust, had more than two hub cabs, had functioning A/C, had tint that hadn't turned purpleish-brown, had a working cruise control, had a fully in-place/intact ignition and also giddy to have a car that didn't make the most hideous screeching sound when in first gear...sorry old Honda Accord...but you were the definition of a "piece."

SO, when I test drove the car I thought I wanted I noticed only one small flaw...the car pulled to right in a major way. As I noted this fact to the salesman (who was in the car with me) he told me that it was just the alignment and that they would fix it for me. (time for negoticiating!)

After negotiation of the trade-in (haha, they actually took that car) and a little haggle on the newer car price, I signed the purchasing contract, also noting that the car was to be fixed of the alignment.

After I drove off the lot (it was a Saturday and the service/repair dept was closed on the weekend) I called and made an appointment to have the car fixed...this is where the fun begins.

I brought my car in to the service dept on a Monday morning to get fixed and at the end of the day I called to make sure they were finished and they told me they were and that I could come up to get it...keep in mind that I work/live on the NW side of OKC and I-240 is not exactly on the way to anything I go to.

After picking it up with a handshake and a smile I drove the car home but as soon as I got onto the highway my car was still changing lanes on its own...the problem was most definitely not fixed. I called AutoMax while still in the car and told them the situation, they told me I needed to call back the next day and speak to the manager.

SO I called the next morning and spoke to a manager...he said he would talk to the service guy and call me back. Never called back. I called the NEXT morning (Wednesday) and spoke to the assistant that answered the phone, she said he was with a customer and took my contact info and said he would call me back when the customer left...6 hours later I called again, the manager was out for the rest of the day. #Fail.

I then called Thursday morning, and talked to the general manager (Ron) and had to explain to him the entire story thus far. He said I needed to talk to the service guy and transferred me to the service dept...the service dept guy said it was more than alignment and listed a couple other things wrong with the car and that if anymore was going to happen to the car that he would have to get the "ok" with the boss. He transferred me back to the GM...he said he would have to check the service ticket and would call me back...I got no call back the rest of the day.

I called again on Friday morning and was told the manager was out for the day.

I called again on Monday morning and finally spoke to the GM again (Ron) and he told me that it was not the alignment and that they were only responsible to fix the alignment as it said on the contract...I told him the only reason it said alignment on the ticket was because that was the issue the salesman told me it was...his response, "Well he's just a salesman and didn't know. We have fixed the alignment as we promised and I'd have to talk to my boss to see if we would fix anything else."

"I don't care if he was just a salesman. He was a representative of AutoMax and told me the issue and wrote it down to get fixed. I don't care if it was the alignment or anything else...I said it pulls to the right and he assured me it would be fixed."

"Let me call you back." -Ron

I got a call at the end of the day on Monday from Ron telling me that if I dropped my car off in the morning they would give me a "loaner" car until they fixed it. (hooray)

This morning I called up to AutoMax to make sure that everything would be ready for me to pick up and go so that I wouldn't have to wait (after voting and going to AutoMax I needed to get to work as soon as possible). The lady told me Ron wasn't in the office yet but expected him any moment, I told her it was no problem and that Ron knew I was coming up there.

As I arrived, I saw Ron at the front. He told that he wished I would have called first, I told him I did...he said that I just needed to drive around back to the service dept to pick up my loaner car...

I get to the service dept...no loaner car available. (I am now not a happy camper)

I drove back to the front of the store and am determined to let Ron know exactly how I felt...which is VERY unusual for me when it comes to approaching business owners as I can understand that running a business from a managerial standpoint can be difficult...I usually let things roll off and just move on...not this time.

I approached Ron and told him (in a not so passive voice and hands raised about ribs-high) and said, "There's no loaner car available. I thought you said I'd get a loaner this morning."

"I told you I wanted you to call first." -Ron

"I DID call." -Me

"Well you needed to call and make an appointment to get a loaner" -Ron

"You never said I needed to make an appointment" -Me

"Listen, we're going to fix your car...I already told my boss about it and we're going to just take the hit on the extra $350 it's going to cost to fix your car" -Ron

"Well that's not my fault" -Me

"YES IT IS" - Ron

"What?!?! It's my fault? I told your salesman the only issue I had was that it pulled to the right" -Me

"Well, he's just a salesman and didn't know what the issue was...he's just trying to..." -Ron

(Interrupting him) "I don't care if he's just a salesman! He told him..." -Me

(Ron interrupting me said) "Hey! You need to stop talking so I can finish!" -Ron

"No, RON, that's not how this whole thing works! You can't just tell me stop talking...(Ron, now rolling his eyes, picks up the phone and calls the service dept and mumbles into the phone as I keep talking)...I have called up here for seven straight days trying to get this little issue fixed and you have been ignoring me this whole time! (Ron hangs up the phone and looks at me)"

"Ok, walk with my salesman to the service department and they'll get you a loaner" -Ron

"I already went over there, they don't have one to give me" -Me

"I know they don't have one but they'll find one." -Ron

"If they could have 'found one' they should have 'found it' before I came in here to argue with you." -Me as I walk off with the salesman and exit the building.

(After leaving the building I asked the salesman why he works for that guy...he responded telling me he treats all of the employees like that too)

AutoMax Hyundai on I-240 (with an emphasis on Ron Bowie) earned a big time #Fail today.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cains Day 5

Today started with a breakfast at Hungry Jacks (what they call "Burger King") and on the tram to the airport to see if our flight to Cains is still intact.

We arrive, everything is a "go" so we head through the "security" they have and wait at the gate. The travel is starting to set in as I am quickly figuring out that I need a time of rest. The 3 hour flight did just the trick.

That flight I was able to put headphones on and listen to music for the first time in over week...and when I say "music" I mean truly recorded music. Those of you that have traveled (or spent much time around me) know that I love to just bust out/join in to any song being played or collectively sung in any group. Doug is the same way. We have had many tunes busted out in harmony (or our best rendition of harmony) along the urban city walks...giving more soul to these already vibrant downtowns.

We didn't know what to expect today (sound familiar?) with the weather and our goals of wanting to SCUBA today...if we were going to Scuba today HAD to be the day because of the general rule that you must wait at least 18 hours before boarding a plane after Scuba diving and we will be on a plane tomorrow evening so trying tomorrow is out of the question.

We check into the hotel, after a very political one-sided conversation had by our taxi driver about his dislike for former President "W", and head to a scuba check-in...not happening. The water is waaaaay too choppy today and no boats are going out to the reef. Our only option (and one that we took) was to make reservations for the tomorrow morning to snorkel instead...I've snorkeled before and know that it is awesome, maybe it is no match for Scuba diving but still pretty cool.

After getting the "no Scuba" news we head down to the beach to quickly learn that there is no accessible beach in this "beach town". There is a very large and very nice pool with lots of trees and grass and people laying out though. We see it...and move on.

After walking the pier looking out onto the "beach" which is blocked off and looks more like an enormous drying up lake, we decide to walk into a restaurant and order a drink and take some suggestions on what to do in this town. The waitress, Margaret, delivers perfectly on cue so I interviewed her:

After we left Splash, we walked over to the visitor's bureau and booked up tomorrow's afternoon with a sea-plane flyover of the Great Barrier Reef scheduled right after we get back from snorkeling and right before we head to the airport. It SHOULD work out perfectly.

After we booked the tickets, we took the visitor bureau lady's advice and headed to some rooftop-zoo thing in the city center...great idea.

In this zoo-thing we were encapsulated with practically no barriers to all kinds of huge parrots that repeatedly dive-bombed us, there was an enclosed enormous crocodile, koala bear, iguanas and a few kangaroo-looking wallabys hopping around too...pretty cool environment.

After that we headed back to the hotel to rejuvenate, write some blog stuff, upload photos/videos then back out to that Splash restaurant for some fresh seafood to the likes of chowder and prawn spring rolls...yum!

(Note: Against my best efforts and much valuable time spent on the computer uploading, videos and photos have been the thorn in my side. I spent hours on this trip trying to get the videos I want uploaded for you to see along with the blog but it just hasn't worked out too well. Most of them will have to wait til I get back to the states...the level of frustration is high against electronics right now.)

Melbourne Day 4

This morning started off with great anticipation...we were about to see our very first foreign professional sporting event: CRICKET.

We start out by walking (because the weather is perfect) on over to the Melbourne Cricket Grounds (MCG - http://www.mcg.org.au/) which is next door to Rod Laver Arena (arena to a tennis major http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_Laver_Arena) and to all those other tennis fans, seeing Rod Laver Arena is pretty cool.

So upon walking up over a hill, we stumble up the "bullpen" of one of the professional cricket teams warming up (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uQfL0UPZF0) watched that for a bit considering we were stunned to actually be there. We walked over to the ticket office having no idea what the ticket prices were going to be or what the crowd was going to be like...the tickets were $5 each (general admission) and inside this 100,000-seat stadium a game of Cricket would be played in front of no more than 300 people http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cquEiTmOYi0.

As exciting as it was to be there...cricket has to be the most boring sport ever invented. It technically lasts all day with a few different sessions and depending on what style of cricket...it can last up to 5 consecutive days without any thrilling moment...we thought we just misunderstood the game so we asked some locals in attendance and they agreed that if you didn't grow up playing it, it was quite boring to watch. My assessment = a game that should be played in no more of an organized setting than P.E. in school.

Leaving the MCG (genuinely thrilled to have seen the match despite it being devastatingly boring) we took a walk through the park and ran across some youth catholic festival with stage and singing and kids everywhere going crazy...singing along to songs i've never heard of and jumping up and down as if the Beatles circa 1964 just took the stage.

Leaving the park we decided to eat and grabbed some sushi at a sweet little spot on Elizabeth street (I know some of you are thinking, "Why have sushi in Australia...you can get that in the U.S.?"). There is quite a bit of Asian influence in Australia, especially with Asia lying directly north.

We walked back to the hotel to rest up and watch the 24-hour sports channel that plays nothing but rugby, Australian-rules rugby, soccer cricket and the occasional NBA game. Yes, random NBA games. I actually got to see the third quarter of the Wolves vs Suns game via FS Wolves TV.

After we left the hotel we were excited to now be heading over to the Melbourne Aquarium where we got to see up close LOTS of penguins, sharks stingrays and numerous other cool animals. I tweeted about going there and the Melbourne Twitter account responded wishing me a good time. (http://twitter.com/melbaquarium).

In the aquarium we were able to see lots of penguins http://www.flickr.com/photos/30796964@N02/4444128668/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/30796964@N02/4444126540/and many other very cute animals that everyone would like to just take home...it was pretty cool. :)

After the aquarium, we set out on Melbourne DETERMINED to dominate this abroad St. Patrick's Day. We ended up hitting 4 different pubs and I even did some Irish jigging with people at Bridie O'Reilly's (http://ltcollinsst.bridieoreillys.com.au/).

FACT: I have not seen ONE Fosters beer nor have I seen ONE advertisement for it.
FACT: Melbourne has the best modern architecture of any city I've ever been to. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9D_ANkgFUk, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XerBLHMWb-E)

I will have videos of the Kids festival and me Irish Jigging on my youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/caseycornett
and photos on my Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30796964@N02/

I have all the videos and photos already on my computer but the internet connection is slow at the spot i'm at that while writing this entire blog (finding and adding the links) Youtube only uploaded ONE video and Flickr 17 photos....I'll try later. They are great videos and definitely worth viewing so stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Melbourne Day 3

Today was started off by a restless sleep getting me out of bed at 6 a.m. and walking down the street net to Hyde park to grab a large coffee. A farther stroll around the park on this Tuesday morning led me not to not much more than lots of animals and early-to-work employees.

Catching back up with and packing our bags, we headed out to grab some quick breakfast: toast for Doug and a fruit salad for me consisting of kiwi, strawberries melon and cantelopes so perfect that a plastic fork cut right through it.

Grabbing another coffee to go and grabbing a cab, we headed to the airport. Most foreigners that I encounter in Europe have no idea where Oklahoma City is (or have never even heard of it, usually I have to tell them, "it's right above Texas.")...not true in Australia.

Everyone that we have asked knows about Oklahoma City and all of them agree that they know about it for the wrong reasons...April 19, 1995.

Everytime that it mentioned I always follow up with a short spiel about what else Oklahoma City is about and try to teach as much as I can in the short amount of time I have. The taxi driver asked a lot of questions and seemed really nice so maybe he learned something this morning...or maybe he is just a really good taxi driver and works for tips.

Arriving at the airport I noticed a big difference between our security in the US and the security of domestic flights in Australia. I was able to get to my gat without showing my ID/Passport one time...not to the ticket counter, bag check and even through the security line. Also, going through the security line I left my shoes on, my hat on, my jacket on and casually walked through the metal detector carrying my cup of coffee.

At my gate, I wandered to the free wine tasting in our terminal and heard lots of info about how big and popular Shiraz is for Australians and exports.

After getting some tips from Margaret, lady sitting next to us in the waiting area, we now had a better idea on what to do when we got to Melbourne.

We found our hotel and started our walk...and it was hot. Melbourne got up into the upper 80's today and will be the same tomorrow. We found out that an Australian sporting match that we've been looking forward to attending will actually happen, tomorrow (Cricket). We decided to save all exploring of the parks and Rod Laver Arena (Australian Open) for tomorrow since that is also where the Melbourne Cricket Grounds is located...so today was filled with walking throughout the CBD and riding all the trams and talking to a few locals on their opinions of the city.

We went to the Melbourne Museum and the ACMI for a few hours where a "technology" exhibit made it accessible for me to play some atari games as if I was in 1983 again.

A trip to City Hall and Parliment, and a walk next to St. Patrick's Cathedral and St. Paul's Cathedral rounded off a long day of walking around...feet are killing me. Ready to find a local pub and "hang out" we got word that "The Metropolitan" was THE spot to go to...found it, stayed for a couple hours, then back to the hotel to cap what was our latest night out...10:30 p.m.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sydney Day 2

Day 2 was most definitely an adventure. With not really a plan at all we had about as much fun as humanly possible.

Waking up at 7 a.m. (went to sleep at 9 p.m.) allowed us to get a fresh start to our exciting day. We set out of the hotel walking left (because we hadn't been in that direction yet). We found a breakfast cafe serving "full English" breakfasts and sat down to chow.

After filling up the belly we rolled out in search of something to surprise us. We had heard about Bondi Beach and decided that we'd jump in a taxi and see what happens.

Arriving at Bondi Beach was like something out of a movie. Perfect sand, perfect weather and a boardwalk with shops all down the coast. We decided to walk down the shops area so that we would know what awaits us after we went down to the beach and I'm glad we did because we stumbled into a surf shop "Dripping Wet" and saw they were advertising surf board rentals. Yes, now that's what I'm talking about. http://tweetphoto.com/14437659

We slurged for cheap board shorts, towels and more sunscreen and headed to the waves with our huge rented surboards. I burn very easily (thank you geneitcs) so I lathered up with sunscreen. Three hours later, we were so exhausted that we could hardly move. I felt like I was already sore in the shoulders, arms, back and neck and dread the waking up for tomorrow.

While returning our surf boards I got word that legendary surfer "Kelly Slater" was staying in the hotel next door to the surf shop because of a huge surfing competion held that weekend...that is even more awesome to add to today.

We grabbed our bags and headed off the beaten path to look for some lunch. We always try to find a local spot and doing that is not always easy but is always rewarding in some way or another. Finding ourselves in a residential area we saw a lunch spot called "Greens" and sat down for a smoothie. At the table next to us was a 70 year old man that asked us where we were from (I guess we stick out quite a bit).

After chatting awhile we got his name and contact info and decided to "Google" him to see if all the stuff he talked about was true...it was. Pretty cool life story. His name is Alan Cholodenko.

We started our walk back to the bus area and grabbed a bus to Watson's Bay where many big cliffs and photo spots are a definite, plus, from Watson's Bay we could take a ferry back around the Opera House and into Sydney proper.

Lots of beautiful scenery here in which (as expected) a photo or video won't really capture the feeling because you don't get the sun warmth, ocean breeze, salt-water smell or hear the waves hitting the rocks by simply looking at the photos...

After circling around the Opera House and taking more video (soon to hit my Youtube page) we took a taxi back to the hotel to rejuvinate and headed back out to catch the Sydeny rugby game, and I'm now a big rugby fan. We tried to see if there was a game we could go watch but never heard a "yes" from anyone so we didn't plan to go see one (we were asking the wrong people). We will try again in Melbourne.

We had another great evening at a local pub watching the match with other locals and eating/drinking local food and brew.

FACT: I have not seen ONE Fosters or even an advertisement for it.

After that we headed back to sleep. The jet-lag, sunburn and surfing is knocking us down quite a bit later in the evenings but we'll prevail in the end.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sydney day 1

I'm not really sure if this truly is day 1 or not because we arrived at the airport at 11:30 a.m. on FRIDAY and arrived to Sydney at 9:30 a.m. SUNDAY, so maybe Day 1 and Day 2 were lost on the plane somewhere but this is my first day in Australia so let's just pick it up there...

After getting off the 15 hr flight over the Pacific we found our bags and said goodbye to Claire, the person who sat next to us on the flight and thanked her for not being one of the screaming children that were spread throughout the plane cabin. We jumped into the taxi with a very disgruntled taxi driver (that halfway to our hotel literally did the sterotypical-taxi driver thing involving rolling his window down to yell at someone) and reached the hotel to drop our bags off.

We walked over to the Darling Harbor (it being Sunday morning there wasn't much open) and walked the pier at some outdoor markets and eventually landed ourselves at the Sydney Opera House. It is definitely as cool as it has appeared in all the pictures, Discovery Channel episodes, and History Channel episodes I've always seen.

We decided to take the ferry that went out to a few different harbors, mainly just to get a water-view of the Opera house. At the last harbor drop-off we exited the boat and went exploring around a little Island and found some pretty amazing cliffs and look-out points. We took some video and photos and hopped back on the ferry back to the Opera House's harbor.

Now that it was lunch time we decided to opt out of the $15 tourist-trap lunch "specials" and just grab a couple Aero bars and Coke Zero and hit the walking trail once again.

Talking to locals is one of my favorite things to do, (especially if they have an accent) and ask them for some suggestions on things to do. After searching Twitter for people talking about Sydeny I asked about some sporting events happening this weekend and got some suggestions from a few people (@Renas40 @tomatom @carmR).

Set on watching a rugby or cricket match at some point on this trip we decided to head back to the hotel to "re-fuel." We watched the first half of the Rabbits and Roosters rugby match on TV then headed to Maloney's Pub to catch the second half and grab some solid food and drinks.

After that, we headed on down to Darling Pier again as the nightlife was starting to heat up and went to the largest 3D iMax screen on the planet (so I'm told). This screen, which we were limited to only watching an hour-long surfer movie starring Kelly Slater because Alice in Wonderland was sold out, was 8-stories tall! Pretty incredible.

Now, as the sun was going down we took a very long 45-min (very long because we had been walking all day after getting very little sleep after traveling 26 hours) down to the Sydney Opera House again to get some night night footage. That was a great idea. After that we headed back to the hotel and hopping in bed at 9 p.m. sounds lame but when OKC is at 5 a.m. the day before, I felt justified in closing the eyes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Australia here I come!!

I leave tomorrow to travel down under and this trip already feels weird to me.

I think that every time I've traveled (see previous blogs) I have always had this image in my head of what to expect. I have either had this memory from a history book or a story from a friend that has already been to a place telling me about certain things...not this time.

When I think of Australia, I think of kangaroos and koala bears. I think of the Opera House in Sydney and I also think of Outback Steakhouse. That's about it...I also hear that when you flush the toilet the water spins in the opposite direction; I really can't tell you what direction it spins right now so maybe it will look different to me and maybe not.

When I think of Australia, I think of funny accents and boomerangs. I think of remembering my grandparents went there numerous times to visit an old army buddy, Wilt.

I think of the fact that I'm going to leave at 1:23 p.m on Friday and get off the plane about 4:00 p.m......on Sunday and then when I return home, I will arrive in OKC only 4 hours after the time I left (that silly International dateline).

When I would go to places like Paris, I had the Eiffel Tower in my head, I had the Louvre Museum and the Mona Lisa in my head. When I went to Rome, I had the Coliseum in mind and the Sistine Chapel. When I went to Berlin, I had the Berlin Wall in my head. When I went to Amsterdam I had the...nevermind.

My point is that when I get off the plane in Melbourne, I have no structural image of a famous building or painting. When I get off the plane in Sydney, I have no historical site that I can't wait to go see. I can look up photos on Flickr all day long and read the Wikipedia pages, but I don't think that will do it justice.

People ask me if I'm excited to go and the truth is....absolutely I am. But for once, I'm excited to go someplace that I have a "blank slate" in my head ready to chalk itself up into my own story.

My own history book, my own Flickr page and my own adventure.

Friday, January 8, 2010

So long '09, it's been fun.

2009 held more for me than the year that saw my 26th birthday.

The highlights:
Taking the highest honors for my 2009 memories will be my trip to Europe in June (all of June). It was a monster trip that led to 15,947 words and 34 pages of blogging that can viewed here http://caseycornett.blogspot.com/2009_06_01_archive.html.

I also bought my first home in September which proved to be quite a headache and although the $8,000 tax credit normally comes between 4-12 weeks, I now am 17 weeks after closing date still waiting for mine and appears to be another 6-8 weeks according to the IRS (hooray).

A highlight that I am was so proud to be involved with was the passage of Maps 3. Being a downtown worker and having a strong passion for OKC, I am constantly diving into OKC's history whether it be from simple observations, to listening to stories even reading books (shout out to Steve Lackmeyer http://bit.ly/8HoULs).

I was 10 when the first Maps passed and have trouble remembering certain aspects of OKC pre-1993 but as MAPS 3 will begin to evolve over the next decade and beyond I'll be able to smile and think, "I remember when..."