Saturday, February 14, 2009

You'll never guess who I met....

Pretty exciting, eh? Okay, okay, I admit my new best friend is rather two dimensional and not nearly as eloquent as the original, but it was still really cool to "meet" him nonetheless.

The annual Multicultural Festival is on in Canberra and despite the heat last weekend, we ventured out with our friend Jet to take in the sights, sounds, sweets and savories. The US Embassy drew quite a crowd with their cardboard cutout of Mr. Obama - they had a photographer taking the photos and then they emailed a copy a few days later! Can you imagine the fate of a cardboard cutout of Mr. Bush? Not quite the same appeal methinks.

After a lovely but sweltering day in the crowds of the festival, we retreated to the crowds of the public swimming pool. For about two weeks, we endured unbelievably hot days here in Canberra. It stayed at 40C (104F) for days on end, and at night the temperature barely dropped at all. We survived by literally hibernating at home in front of a fan blowing across frozen bottles of ice or by retreating to somewhere air-conditioned, like our offices.

Then all sorts of crazy things started happening. Many regions in the state of Victoria are on fire and somewhere around 200 people have died. Many more are still to be found and they say many bodies will never be identified as they are too badly burnt. The stories I hear on a daily basis are wrenching. People dying trying to save their homes, people dying trying to escape, families getting separated in the chaos. People in Canberra are especially sympathetic as bushfires swept through the ACT in 2003.

And then, strangely enough, there is flooding happening in the state of Queensland! And, here in the ACT, we went from furnace-like temperatures to having to wear a coat and gloves on the ride to work in the morning - overnight! At the moment its 17C or about 62F - not at all normal for February.

Well, what started as a happy post about my new friend Barack Obama, ended up as a sad story about tragedy and what has been aptly referred to as "global weirding." Sorry about that.