Why I Do Life

The Now I've been posting about my fitness journey for a couple months over on Facebook but I want to be able to post longer form articles that have more to do with my thoughts, reflections, and in-depth analysis of this journey.  That's what I'll do with this channel.  Look for articles in the Do.Life. category around the site.  I'll be cross-linking with Facebook


The History

Back in September, I did some blood work for a company wellness program.  The news wasn't good.  My blood pressure was high, Cholesterol was High (Bad was high and good was low), Triglycerides were almost off the chart, and the A1C showed pre-diabetes.  It was a slap to the face.  That was when I went to see a doctor.  November 1st, I saw a physician for the first time in years where Dr. Hoffman confirmed the worst - I was on the verge of diabetes and putting myself at risk for heart disease.  While I was at it, I saw a dentist for the first time in years and even got a sleep study to evaluate my sleep apnea.

The most important thing I did on the 1st was to go to Forum Fitness Club in Bayonne.  It's so close to our apartment, I couldn't come up with an excuse to not get workouts in the way I had been with my unused Planet Fitness membership.  I'd be starting a year long program called Thin & Healthy's Total Solution through the gym.  Every week, I check in two or three times with coaches to review a food diary and workout log.  Combine that with some time with a personal trainer for an epic fitness mix.

So I started to run.  I lifted heavy weight things and put them down.  Slowly at first, and lightly but slowly but surely, I built up more and more.  I used the Couch to 5K program to get my feet moving - on February 2nd I ran the first 5K since high school, and I did it under 30 minutes!  I hope that this series of articles will continue to give me a chance to explore my thoughts about the journey and reflect on different topics as I move forward.


The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

So every journey has an end, right?  Well not exactly.  I will always battle my addiction to food and the allure of sloth.  My challenge is to stay active and healthy - to make it part of the lifestyle for the rest of my life.  That's the long view.  More immediately, here are the upcoming milestones that I'm shooting for:

  • 3/24: End of Forum Fitness Club's Weight Loss Challenge
  • 5/24: Spring Lake 5 Mile Run
  • June? 10K Run
  • 9/21: Newport Liberty Half Marathon (For Corral Placement)
  • 1/11/15: Walt Disney World Marathon

They're big goals and a big payoff with a Marathon in the happiest place on Earth.  So join the journey and share your thoughts as I go along!

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Corporate Relations: How to Keep Your Job

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Whether you're someone that is deeply in love with their job at their company or someone that is less enamored, keeping up corporate relations is, and will continue to be, one of the most important ways for you to stay employed.

Let me start by saying, "I LOVE MY JOB" - if you're reading this and you're from my company, there is no need to fret, I am actually quite happy with my role and this is simply observations that I've made over the last few weeks.

What am I talking about?

I'm talking about how do you keep your job!  You need to get yourself out of the line of FIRE, and I mean company separation, as quickly as you can.  Right now is not the sort of time that you want to have less than firm footing for your career.  The job market is hard up, housing is crap, living expenses aren't cheap, and your parents just announced a strict no "son living at home" policy.  Here are some thoughts on how you can keep the job and avoid heading back to the nest:

Become too Valuable to Fire

Convincing your company to spend money on you is like catnip for both of you.  Magically, overnight, the company has decided to spend $xx,xxx on you and firing you would invalidate that investment.  Training, vendor training, is a great way to get $$ invested in you.  It's painless to you and has a low barrier to entry for the company as well.  I bet you can get one training class a year plus expenses related to the training without having to sign a 5 year contract.

This year, I was lucky enough to get training authorized for a week.  This one time expense from the company will make an approximate 6.5% of total salary investment added onto my total compensation for the year.  That doesn't sound like a lot but if you are still in a junior position like me, I bet that most other analysts aren't getting that sort of spend from their firm.

Sell Something

Another great way to get well known in your firm is to sell something as a junior level employee.  This is no trivial matter to accomplish, BUT... if you can do it, you've got your next promotion pretty much in the bag.  How do you do it?  Get to know your client or project REALLY well.  Understand their concerns as your concerns.  Find their fears as your fears.

Then, tell them something they know but they don't want to hear.  Give them the problem AND A SOLUTION.  Use your corporate-foo to convince them you're the man/company for the job, and then immediately make it your boss's win.  Making him or her a winner will and you will win too.  I've recently seen how making my manager look good makes me look good too.


The old addage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know" no longer applies.  That makes you the center of power in the networking game and you're not it.  The new phrase is "It's not who you know, but who knows you!"

If you play golf with the VP of Sales, that's fairly good insurance that you're not going to walk into the office to find a pink slip on your desk.  This isn't as easy as getting training, and not as easy as making your boss look good.  This is a project that takes time and tact.  Use this step wisely.  That said, great risk comes great reward as this will probably have you where you want to be the fastest.

These strategies will hopefully help you win the battle of corporate relations.  Your mission, whether you choose to accept it or not, is to keep your job and be happy doing it.  I know that I'm happy with my company and I know that I'm working on these strategies - I need them and they need me and that's how we will work together and move forward.

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A Little Patriotism

Yesterday was the 4th of July. I spent it with my best friends in the place that I spent so much of my childhood, The Lake. It's a wondrous thing to be able to come back to a place again and again. Life is filled with so many variables and to find constants in your path can be difficult if not impossible. The Lake is one of my constants. From when I was a baby, I've been spending summers or weekends up in the New Hampshire woods on the banks of Lake Wentworth.

These days, this constant has gained a new role in my life, my getaway. I love Boston, don't get me wrong. But after working. 50-60 hour week there is nothing I want to do less than stay in the blast furnace of brick and concrete when I know there is a quiet camp and glistening lake with my name on it waiting to the north.

For the first time in a long while, I have been bringing friends with me to this special place to share the peacefulness and slower pace. It's truly a relaxing experience. If you are one of the chosen few, feel lucky. Just kidding... But really. I don't normally include others in my relaxation because what I require to relax is often times the opposite of what others bring with them.

Fortunately for me, I have friends and family that can respect that and look for the same thing too. I love this place and hope that I get to continue to visit for many years to come.

Australia Chronicles: Day 20

Another early start today and a choked down breakfast.  I was in a very bad mood since it was our last day in paradise, no more Janice, and honestly I didn't want to go home for two reasons 1) Parents and all the control they bring with them and 2) 24 hours of travel to get there. Another crappy coach to the site of the Sydney 2000 summer olympic games "the green games."  We got a tour of Stadium Australia which can fit over 100,000 people.  It was built with private monies soit will have paid for itself in the profits it reaps and at that point it will be turned over to the local government.

We started up on level six where we could actually appreciate how large of a building it is.  It has a new look for they have ripped up the old Olympic track and replaced it with grass anda rugby/soccer/Australian rules/Cricket field.

Then we moved down to level one and we could smell the grass we were so close.  We sang our national anthem as our guide raised the Aussie flag which he and Janice then followed with a rendition of the Australian national anthem.  We then moved on to the player's locker room where everyone prepared to do battle.  The scent of tears and sweat still lingers.

We left the stadium and walked to the superdome which was home to the gymnastic and basketball vanues.  It was an impressive building which can be used for everything from motocross to Eminem concerts.  The floor design in the grand forier is actually made of 60 differnet creatures.  The floor belongs to the olympic art collection.  We bid goodbye to the Olympic park and made a b-line to the airport where we did two more questionaires, filled out customs forms and went through immigration and security to be greeted with another hour of waiting.

Finally we boarded.  It's been an uneventful flight so far other than my trip to the flight deck of the Boeing 747-400 that we are flying on.  I hope mom likes the necklace I purchased for her.

More Later,

James M. Connors

Australia Chronicles: Day 19

Helloooooo Sydney!!  Today is our day to explore this amazing story.  It started off with a 6:15 wake-up call, moving on to a hot breakfast in Curve, the hotel restaurant.  Then we met another coach to go to the Opera House.  He definitely isn't any Andy!  We had our group photo in a point that had the Opera House & Harbour Bridge aligned perfectly. Then it was a brisk walk around the cove to the Opera House for a guided tour of three of the four rooms and the Grand Concert Hal.  The concert hall made me want to cry, it was just so amazingly beautiful and the accoustics are at the point that you don't need any amplification for even the back of the hall to hear you.  Plus, instead of having speakers facing back at you so you can hear yourself, there are acrylic donuts hanging which bounce the sound back down at you.  The domes are cut from a sphere to make their shape.

From there, we made our way on foot to Costello's Opal Store.  We were shown a great mpeg movie on opal and everything about it.  Then the owner James Costello came out and cut a raw boulder opal with the diamond edged saw, it was very interesting, the whole process.  Then it was off to shopping and perusing their huge selection.  I saw a beautiful silver fancy pen wtih an opan on the end and immediately thought about Brian and my Dad.  I bought of those and another that was similar to the other but it was gold plated.

I couldn't decide who to give it to.  Then I felt guilty that I have gifts for them but not for mom, so I went looking at the cases for an imaculate gift for mom.  I decided that a necklace would be appropriate and that a boulder opal would be in the correct price range while keeping beauty at a premium.  After dropping about $235 I walked out feeling like a million bucks.

From here we boarded a sweet ASS bus with twin wheels in the front and a second entrance halfway back.  We took this urban assault vehicle and drove to the Sydney aquarium and the focks of Matilda cruises.  We had about 30 mins of down time in which I fed the local seagulls.  Then we met up with New York and boarded a powered catamaran which also had a sail which is great since there was a howling wind.

We got spectacular views from the water of the Sydney skyline and the highrises, the harbour bridge which has 60 million rivets in it and the Sydney Opera House.  We actually were under sail for about 30 mins.  We actually got a very nice view of the mouth to Sydney harbour where there is a 1 nautical mile divide north to soiuth.  We returned to port under propeller power and enjoyed a nifty little buffet lunch at sea.

From here we boarded the monorail at Darling Harbour after pulling together to make sure everyone had the appropriate fare.  This is Sydney's only monorail and was put into operation in teh 80's in an effort to get people off the streets.  We were on our way to city centre where we enjoyed a venue called sky tour which used audio and video theaters to teach you something about this country.  It finished with an in-motion VR ride/theater which brought us all over the country to see the sights.

After this experience, we walked acresst he hall to the AMP tower where we went awfully high up in the air and were trated to an amazing panoramic 360* view of Sydney and the surrounding area.  There was a clear view of the head of the harbour, the airport, and the olympic park was just barely on the horizon.  Back to Rushcutter's Hotel we go with a dinner stop at Planet Hollywood.  The was a very cool waiter named Lucas.  He was a perfect match to the restauarant.

From there we went back to the hotel.  We had a little freetime until we were required to journal and fill out a few evaluations.  Immediately after that it was bed checks.  While we were at Planet Hollywood, we gave Janus her gifts "tip" if you will and a few other small tokens of our appreciation.

James M. Connors

Australia Chronicles: Day 18

TRAVEL DAY. Today we were off on the last travel day minus the trip back to the US.  It's also our last day with Andrew - our bus driver :-(  It was a long day boring me to tears.  We watched "Babe" and an episode or two of Buffy.

We arrived at our hotel in the late afternoon so we had time to hang out before we needed to leave for dinner.  I got all up with a tie & shoes while no one else did.  I showed everyone up and I was feeling really cool as we walked into Nick's.  We got back from a very nice dinner and we had free time.

I went up to the pool with some other guys and soft of just hung out.  We then went to a small little meeting that we used to get caught up in our journal, fill out the Australia Census - I was in a Census and you weren't!

We also said our final goodbyes to Andrew even though our "ceremony" was while we were at Nicks.  It was very nice, we all kicked in some money for a little bit of a bonus and everyone signed a notebook with our personal messages for him.  He was quite overcome.  There was never a better coach driver.  He played with us, ate with us, slept with us, and enjoyed our time with us.  I really am going to miss him.  His last words to me were, "Keep yourself out of trouble big guy,"

Well, goodnight.

James M. Connors

Australia Chronicles: Day 17

Today we left our families in a very abrupt and quick manner.  8:00 we were supposed to be back at the surf club.  I was first up again and I was the 1st down, the 1st to eat - the 1st to do everything and so I got to go and unload baggage at the bus.  We said our goodbyes and we were off to Coff's Harbour.  We made a quick stop at the Giant Banana where we posed for pictures. Next, we stopped at Byron Bay for lunch and pictures at the most eastern point of Oz.  we continnued on our way to Coff's Harbour where we finally left Queensland and entered New South Wales.  The pelican something or other was our stayover.  This was a beautiful hotel which started on the 5th floor and went down (it was built into the side of a hill).  There was much merry making on the beach as the moon rose.  After dinner it was off to bed in a room with Jordan, Brandon, and Joel.  I really HATE Jordan.  He is vulgar, disgusting, and ewww.

Off to Bed,

James M. Connors

Australia Chronicles: Day 16

Today we were able to sleep in.  I was the first of us to awaken and so I quietly made my way to the kitchen and to my surprise Nola was awake behind the counter of their kitchen at 8:30.  I figured no one would be awake but there she was smiling away.  I asked for some toast and peanut butter.  The rest of our girls were fast asleep upstairs. I quickly found out that Ben and Josie get up around 5:30 for training.  Just as I hear that, Ben comes up from downstairs looking exactly the way he looked yesterday.  Josie soon followed and then Neil graced us with his appearance.  We watched a bit of music videos as we tried to wait for the rest of my band of merry women.  We are all going to a recreation center to "get to know our host families."  The fact of the matter is that while we were there I saw the kids from my family once or twice.

I feel much better when I have been able to get my drugs into me.  Neil picked all 5 of us and brought us to the house where we just sat around and played cards as we planned the afternoon.  I decided that I would like to go down to the club for a while so I asked if I could and Ben and Toddy & I all walked down to the Kawana Waters Surf Life Saving Club.  MJ was there and we played footy with him and a few other kids.  Drop-kicking a rugby ball is very difficult!

In an hour or two, the girls walked down and watched us for a while then we were picked up - well some of us were picked up and got a few movies to watch while the rest of us just walked back.  We chowed down on cold and warm chicken which was a treat for us since it was the first chicken we had all trip.  We finished the night with watching Bring It On & Oh Brother Where Art Thou.  Then it was off to bed!!

James M. Connors

Australia Chronicles: Day 15

Today we left the hotel and headed to Brisbane and the Myer Center for some shopping and free time.  For the first two hours, I was at the doctors' office trying to figure out what was wrong with me.  The fruit said it was either a touch of food poisoning or a mini-flu.  Anyways, he gave me nice perscriptions for imodium, buscapan, and some antibiotics. Then I spent time hanging out with friends with the rest of the groups.  All in all it was a fun morning.  After the drugs kicked in, I was in no pain.  In the afternoon, we all met our homestay family.  I was very consfused because originally I was supposed to be with one family and then I was posted with another but when we arrived at the Kawana Waters Surf Life Saving Club to actually go home with them I was in for a rude surprise.  I was placed with Neil and Nola Francis along with Sara, Bubbles, and Kate.

I personally hate Sara with a passion because she is very rude and inconsiderate.  Anyways, back to the homestay family.  Ben is the only boy - 15 - and he was incredibly quiet.  The girls of the delegtion absolutely melted over him, saying that he was Heath Ledger.  Then there was Josie.  Her birthday is tomorrow, she is turning 13.  She is VERY attractive.  It seems all Australians have perfect skin without a blemish to their person.

Anyways, we had cocktails down at the clb and this is when I realized Ben is a very shy pseron when it comes to new people especially GIRLS!  How weird!  I'm only 14 and I absolutely love talking to new people, especially girls.  We went back to tehir house which is a big old house which Neil is fixing up.  He a manager for the dry walling company up the road.  He puts in long hours to his work, fixing up the house & surfing.  Nola is unemployed but she keeps busy tending to the house.

Apparently we are the third group of billets they've put up in their house.  We all slept on the third floor kicking Ben and Josie out of their rooms.  I got Ben's room which was basically a bed and a desk but it is a comfortably cool and I have it all to myself which is very awkward.  Privacy that is.  After an informal dinner of lasagne which I had non of, then we all went to the upstairs and talked for a long long time.  The while time Ben said nothing rather he only nodded and used his fingers to answer.  He really is shy around girls.

James M. Connors

Australia Chronicles: Day 14

Today we packed our backpacks for some beach bussing with Bronco.  We boarded his specialized offroad 4wd passenger carrying vehicle built on large dimensions and met our steering wheel attendant.  A short ride and a ferry portage later, we were on the beach of the Sunshine Coast.  We heard lots about the flora and fauna of the area as well as some of the history on the seashore. The sand dunes were brilliantly colored sands that were colored because of the iron content oxidizing.  the shore used to be 50kms out to sea until the oceans rose and brought the coast to what we know it now.  We hiked up some dunes and explored a shipwreck then ventured forth to Rainbow Beach for some swiming.  I still wasn't feeling good with horrible stomach pains so I skipped the swimming.

We went further into the hills and had some lunch.  I've been able to stop throwing up, but I drank a lot.  We got back to the hotel 3 hours later and had quite a bit of free time.  I took a nap since I wasn't feeling good.  Then we all dressed up our best and headed to dinner.  I wore the nicest outfite I could put together and it showed because I received many compliments.  Once again, I ate little if anything and as soon as I got to the door I felt like I needed to throw up.  At 8:00, everyone went out roaming the resort having fun, and then there was me.  I was asleep.  I slept through everything, a pizza party yet I was asleep.

Australia Chronicles: Day 13

Today we said goodbye to Yeppoon with a travel day to Caloundra.  We were on the bus the whole day with a stop at Gin Gin state school.  the children told me that picking your nose was a form of masturbation.  I am really not feeling well at all.  Sitting in the back of the bus in ot what I call fun while throwing up on the bus, even though it was in the toilet.  We ended the night with dinner at Maloolaba.  Not feeling well cashed my meal ticket in for two drinks, which were expelled from my body. I saw Ira Hartman from church leading the high school Maine delegation.  We talked for a while and then it was time to retire to the Rydges Oasis hotel where I roomed with Kenny and Nick.

Australia Chronicles: A Letter From A Friend KLW

Hey James! You have been such an awesome friend!  You are most def. my second Andy.  I'm so glad I met you and hope we stay friends for a long time, you're so easy to talk to.  Here's a little info so we can stay in touch -- PERSONAL INFO --

I hope your having an awesome time on the trip and enjoying every moment of it, and I know you can't wait for that awesome plane ride back home :-) You my big brother ALWAYS!

Love Ya!


Australia Chronicles: Day 12

8/1/01 - ? Wow!!  Jenn got in more trouble than I thought.  It hink there was a phone call home for this one since she insisted on trying to lie about it and that didn't work.  She gradually gave it up and this probably would be a great commercial for telling the truth straight off rather than hiding the truth, especially when there are witnesses in your room... not to mention the guard that saw her.  It is comforting to know that they are looking out for our well being considering the fact that it could have been anyone trying to get into our room in the middle of the night.

As we walked to breakfast, there were many people crying as many kids were deported this morning back to the U.S.  The kids from New York who were going back were caught purchasing and consuming alcohol, the Mainers were caught with drugs.

We ended the day with a travel day down to Coloundra.  We were staying at another Rydges Oisis Hotel.  I was not feeling well at all.  I believe it might be some food poisoning from the crocidile soup I had.  It was really bad but I'm trying to get through it.  Kenny, Nick, and I were in a room together.  I couldn't keep anything down all day... both ends really.  We had dinner at a marina in Maloolaba.  I didn't eat anything but I drank a lot.

I was carrying a fever so that and the cold temps sent me shivering.  We went to the capricorn caves where  we learned about the caves and all the different formations.  We sang in the cavern named the cathedral.  The national anthem never sounded better.  Then we went bouldering in groups while sharing one flashlight.

James M. Connors

Australia Chronicles: Day 11 Part 2

7/31/09 - ? We finally arrived at the Rydges Resort and it is sweet!!  The place is so big and really nice.  We have suite rooms with a queen and a full and two pull out couhced.  We saw a movie, "Space Cowboys" for the 4th time.  I ended up skipping that and mingling with more of my friends getting closer to many of them.

There was some interesting social happenings happening in the many social circles.  The day started off with a rocky start but it ended up being very good.  We had our longest travel day so far, almost 7 hours.  That really sucked - my ass was in a ton of pain and there was some difficulty holding it until we got to a place to relieve yourself even though there was a bathroom on the bus.  Jordan used it 8 times with an average of 15 minutes each use.

Also, Jenn was caught by the security people for walking on the roof.  She got in loads of trouble.  Well, I don't have too much else to say other than Nick C, Derek D, and Brian R were my new roommates.

James M. Connors

Australia Chronicles: Day 11

7/31/09 - 1:06pm Wow I'm really bad about this whole journal thing, it's been 3 days and I've been very busy.  Right now, I'm on the coach on the way from South Molle Island to Yeppoon.  Now to recap the event that have transgressed since I've written last.

We woke up early at Reef HQ on the 29th and packed up.  We all slept in the theater all together and watched a really bad movie showing coral and stuff while we were dozing off to bed.  We didn't have becki there for we were on our way to Billibong Sanctuary for a hot breakfast and a look at quite a few native animals.  The food was pretty good, then we got our pictures holding koalas, snakes, crocadiles, and wombats.  We had a little lesson on salt water crocs.

From there, we traveled to Ayr where we got a civic welcome and a presentation on their area.  After that we went farther south to Arlie beach where we rested for a little while.  I got a glimpse at what the French Riviera must be like with a few people "sun bathing."  We caught a 5:30 ferry to South Molle Island where we had a little presentation on the island and the resort.  Then it was off to dinner and then free time.  It was loads of fun.

I roomed with Ronnie, Kenny, and David.  The next morning it was 7:00 brecki and then on to beach games like volley ball & a few racing games.  That was followed by a presentation by O.U.C.H. (Order of Underwater Coral Heroes).  They told us a lot of stuff about the coral I had already heard when we were out at the reef.  Lunch followed then a stupid nature walk up Mt. Jeffries which was 3.5km's from the resort.  I must admit that the view from the top was quite awesome.

After that, there was bird feeding and free time til dinner then for free time until 8:00pm when we had a group meeting where we discussed why we wanted to come to Australia and a quick brief on things to come.  I helped people through tough stuff.

Then we got to this morning with a 5:30 wakeup call and room cleaning and the packing of bags then moving them to the bottom of the hill from where our rooms were.  Some girls were moved to suite rooms because their rooms had broken doors and there were drunkards going around the resort causing trouble.  We had a rushed breakfast and we ran to catch the 7:30 ferry.

Once on the coach we were off on a 3 hour trip to a sugar farm where we had lunch and learned about the growing and harvesting fo the sugar crop.  There was a 15 minute stop to change money but of course I didn't have a photocopy of my passport so I couldn't change any travelers cheques and at the same time, the Bank of America Visa bank system was down with ATMs so I couldn't get any money and now I'm very mad.

James M. Connors

Australia Chronicles: Day 8

7/28/01 - 7:24pm I've been at Woodleigh Station for the past two days doing things such as boomerang throwing, swimming in the same river as the "survivors" did.  We did some learning about the bush, the animals and normal activities of a farm such as milking cows, wrangling the cattle and dipping them for ticks.  We also learned a great deal about Australia and the Outback in general.

I'll give more info in a second.  We went for a bush walk yesterday and saw a beautiful marshland and enjoyed lunch among the numerous cow patties which covered the area.  The night before we were treated to a night walk in search of possums and the native ground dwellers such as scorpions, snakes, termites etc. as well as some star gazing from a basaltic ridge.  There was a lot of jokes exchanged in among the tents in which we stayed.

I found each morning at Woodleigh very cold as well as the nights in the unheated tents but to our rescue we were supplied with warm sleeping bags.  Each meal was prepared for us by the family.  Peter and Kate as well as Kate's brother, Bob, and their parents were incredibly hospitable and worked hard to make us feel at home at their farm.

The most memorable part of the stay was the nightime keepaway or "rugby" and the whip cracking.  I got well versed in that art with the expert guidance of Peter.  We met Kate's childred, Brigette who was an absolute expert at the whip and Sam who was a crack comedian.  All in all I had a blast during our farmstay at Woodleigh.  Whether it was talking to Kate or helping them set up meals or our aboriginal teachers and their tales of the dreamtime.  We also saw a wind farm which produced 12 megawatts of power from 21 generators.

Woodleigh Station is a working cattle station of approximately 60 square miles in size with 2,500 head of cattle and around 45 horses.  The original settlers came to Ravenshoe in 1877 and Kate's family came in 1913.  It's approx 20 miles up river from the Survivor set.

Today we had a very cold start and early breaki with a start of to Townsville about 330km from Woodleigh.  We first started off with lunch at the Townsville mall then we were off to Castle Hill which was 8 feet short of being a mountain and it gave us a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding area.  From there we sped off to Reef HQ where we are now.  It's a very large aquadrium which gave us dinner showers and where we are going to be sleeping today.  Well, that's all for today.

James M. Connors

Australia Chronicles: Day 4

7/25/01 - 9:45pm I was awoken by someone knocking on our door at 7:00am in the morning.  It was Brandon and Ronnie wanting to chat.  I was definitely not in the mood.  I shrugged it off and happened into the shower.  Another nasty breakfast and we were off to the great barrier reef.  There was rain everywhere and I thought that there would be no end to the downpour.

It quickly subsided and the sun came out.  We boarded the "wave piercing" catamaran and we were ready for the 1:30hr ride out to Agincourt Reef, section 6 at around 28 knots.  There were many little squalls present in the morning weather.  Out on the bow of the boat was where I made my perch with my Hawaiian shirt and wetsuit top and bathing suit bottom.  I braved all the squalls and had the time of my life up there.

The sun came out and dried up the all aluminum craft which prompted many friends to come out and join me.  We arrived at the reef and since I was in the "experienced group" they put me right into the water.  I had the best time out on the reef snorkling.  Dana and I event out on a semi-submersible boat to view the outer coral and many fish.  The is soooo much life out in this barren and desolate place.

I was very sad with the parting of our happy little place in the middle of the ocean.  Oh right, our diving platform was an all aluminum pontoon platform anchored in a lagoon.  It can stand a class 4 cyclone.  So we came back to the resort and had free time and dinner, then we had more free time.  Then I followed Brandon and Christan and did laundry.

Talk later, sleep now.

James M. Connors

Australia Chronicles: Day 3 (#4 by Schedule)

7/24/01 - 8:15pm I'll start our by commenting on yesterday's events.  On the flight to Sydney, I ended up getting something like 6 hours of sleep.  After that and a change of clothes, I felt much refreshed.  There were three movies.  They consisted of some weird knight movie and "The Tailor of Panama" with Pierce Bosnan.  then it finished up with "Spy Kids."  I talked quite extensively with one of the leaders of the New York delegation and enjoyed the passing of another book... That being Hemingway's "The Man and the Sea."

We arrived at Sydney very early in the morning and enjoyed chatting wtih friends and browsing the airport shops during our 2 hour layover.  We boarded another 747 but it was a 200, not a brand new 400 like on the way over.  I ended up sleeping through everything from push back to the serving of breakfast.  Then I watched the in-flight movie which happned to be the same cheesy knight movie that we saw on the way over.

I asked one of the flight attendants for a tour to the flight deck using the excuse of my CAP membership and my strides at the private pilot license.  He obliged and I went up to the second level and got a tour of the flight deck of one of the largest planes in the commercial fleet.  The airframe's age was apparent by the complete lack of television instruments.  The displays resembled that of a Cessna 182 minus the GPS system.  I intended on asking for the same tour of the return trip to LA.

We arrived in Cairns and went through immigration and customs without a hitch.  We met our delegation manager, Janice, and sped off to Port Douglas to our hotel, the Rydges Reef Resort.  We all felt like sleeping but we were strongly encouraged not to in order to convert to Oz time.  After a nice shower and another change, I was ready to explore the resort with one of my roommates, Nick, while the other one, Derek, went out swimming.

There was a great dinner prepared.  Another full night of sleep, almost 11 hours and I was ready to tackle the day.  We were awoken by the loud phone for a wakeup call at 7 O'Clock.  Brecki was served at 8:00 and we were on the bus to Sky Rail, the gondola tour of the rain forest.  It was an old Poma six-passenger gondola and we ended up getting off at various stops to see the beautiful forest and magnificent waterfall.

At the other end of the gondola we met the town of Kondura where we found our coach and were wisked off to rain forest station for some Aboriginal culture.  We started with a show of traditional dances and then we were shown to different stations such as boomerang and spear throwing and digerydoo playing.  I bought one of the most beautiful digerydoos I've ever seen.

Then, I found myself in a wildlife park surrounded by kangis and alligators.  I got some great shots of those and some beautiful pics of koala bears.  I bought dad's koala... very real, and a road sign to Australia.  We did an aquaduck tour of the rainforest at the station and then we were treated to a "mediocre" dinner and a night of bush dancing.  I promise I'll explain more about that when I get home but right now it's 8:45 and I need sleep. James M. Connors

Australia Chronicles: Day 1

7/21/01 - 10:45pm I write this aboard our Quantas flight to Sydney while waiting for our plane to push off from the gate.  It is 10:42PST - that would be 1:42am EST on Sunday for you guys back home.  Today has been a STRESSFUL on!!  I awoke this morning to my mom nudging me to consciousness because my alarm clock rarely operates as it should.  I rushed through a shower and a mediocre breakfast.

After a short pep-talk with Brian, we were off to PWM (Portland International Jetport).  It was about two hours before we boarded the plane but just as we pushed off and the first engine ran up, there was a fault in our MD-88.  It took them 15 minutes to finaly get the problem solved but I thought it was odd because Brian had said that there was going to be a mechanical failure of some sort.  Well, to make a long story short about that, we took off 15 minutes late at 10:25am EST.

Shortly there after, we arrived at Ohio/Northern Kentucky Airport where we enjoyed a one hour layover.  At some point we boarded the 757 that was supposed to take us to Los Angeles.  The in-flight move was Heart Breakers with Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sigorny Weaver.  the lunch we were provided pretty much sucked.  There was a choice of chicken or beef where I opted to take the beef choice that was served with southeast potatoes and string beans topped off with a mocha brownie, a caesar salad and some other stuff.  Needless to say the meat wasn't cooked all that well which prompted me to ditch the meat and go for everything else.  To make matters worse... the beef tasted exactly like both the green beans and the potatoes.

We finally arrived in LA after a very short flight, something like 3:45 hours.  We gathered our luggage and headed to the bus which we thought was going to bring us to the hotel... this was far from the case.  We ended up taking a bus tour of LA County and to top it off, we ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood.  We returned to LAX for check-in and waited for boarding our being 747-400 destined for Sydney, Australia.

I have somehow earned the pet name of OZ.  They must have gotten it from my dog whose name is Oz.  We waited and waited and finally we got on the gosh-darn plane.  We ended up pushing back almost 20 minutes late and then spending another 10 minutes taxiing to our runway.  THIS PLANE IS HUGE!

Right now we are about a half hour our of LAX with Heart Breakers as one of four in-flight movies.  WE ALREADY SAW IT TODAY ahhhhhh... then there is the Tailor of Panama, Spy Kids, and one other.  Oh well, dinner has arrived and I think I'm gonna catch some shut eye.

This post is part of James Connors travel journal for my People to People Student Ambassador Program trip to Australia in the summer of 2001. To see all of the posts, click on the Australia button at the top of the website.