September 2007

Mid-autum festivalWith reasonably clear skies, a full moon and a very crowded night time beach, Vivien, Drew (the older kids teacher) and I wandered around and wondered what this “mid-autum” or “lantern” festival was all about (Wikipedia helped – with a photo too).   Hundreds of people, mostly families went all out buying multi-coloured glow sticks (candles having been outlawed because they are so dangerous) and then waving them around for a couple of hours.

Being very, very ignorant I couldn’t see the point of it all but then I sometimes wonder the same thing about a commercial, western Christmas.

Cyclone roller coaster at Coney IslandI always thought Coney Island was an Aussie thing.  Then I heard Van Morrison sing about it and I suspected that I might have been a little too parochial.  Finally I got the chance to visit the original Coney Island amusement park in New York.  I was amused at how run down it was but then heard that it’s been purchased by developers and so our day was the last day of opening for much of the park.

Highlights included the Cyclone roller coaster which saved me from the need to visit the chiropractor but scared the wits out of me. The other great attraction that was fun as a bystander was the gently-named “Shoot the Freak”.   For only US$20 you could purchase 35 paintballs and empty them all at a very fit, young fellow dressed in body armour who would try (not very hard) to dodge them.  Something for the whole family.

UN building New YorkIt was rather a sudden departure as some long-awaited meetings in New York with out colleagues at the UN finally fell into place. So three of the Global Hand team set off on a very long flight (I never seem to be able to sleep…) to meet up with Sally Begbie who was already in New York.

Our aim was to finalise some details regarding the resource sharing project that we’ve been working on all year (and much longer in Sal, Matt and Katey’s case). By Friday we were all face to face with lawyers, IT technical folk and keep people from various UN groups. It was a case of being careful on what to say, when and how – but very interesting.

At the end, though, I decided that I’m not really the laywer type. I seem to want to acknowledge the other person’s point of view too readily whereas in these meeting you need to know “when to hold ’em and when to fold “em” (as Kenny Rogers once said…).