Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A studio, hospital and university visitor crawls into a bed

Scenes from Mission Impossible were filmed here at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney. Above you will see a photo of my Australia group at Fox Studios Australia, the first official company visit in which we partook on Tuesday, following a very nice bus tour around Sydney. So far Sydney seems like an amazing city -- so much culture crammed together, but with breathtaking views of the water and a fantastic climate. I've never been to San Francisco, but several people made the comparison.

The visit to Fox Studios was fun, although they did not currently have anything in production. Lots of movies have been filmed at this site, though -- Mission: Impossible, parts of Star Wars Episodes II and III, the second and third Matrix films, Moulin Rouge! and the famously unsuccessful epic Australia. After Fox, we hit the town at Darling Harbor, an area with restaurants, pubs and casinos on the water. Things here are pretty expensive, although this place had some decent drink specials. Cigarettes in the machine were 13.50 AUD (Australian dollars) though, which is about the same price in U.S. dollars. Egads!

I didn't sleep too well, which ended up doing me in for today's very long itinerary. I increasingly felt feverish and run down, so as soon as we returned to the hotel, which we just did, I took a few Advil and crawled into bed, where I intend to stay. But our visits were interesting. We started at St. Vincent's Hospital, which is a private and public hospital started by an order of nuns. Turns out that public health in Australia, which is free, is quite good, except for the sometimes incredibly long waits. The mission of this hospital is to turn nobody away. We got a nice tour through the ER, a new mental health building they're about to move into, and a cool simulation station (pictured below), where staff practice lifesaving techniques on dummies.

After St. Vincent's we went to one of the local business schools -- AGSM at UNSW, FYI -- for a lecture and a bit of mingling with students. Oddly the first guy I mingled with was from Hartford. Small world. One of the cool things about this lecture at the school, besides the part when we were evacuated because of a fire alarm, was that I could follow the content thanks to business school; terms that once were foreign now are familiar! That's a nice feeling; makes me feel I'm getting some of my U.S. dollars' worth.

Our final stop was at Austrade, the federal government's foreign trade agency, although by this point in the trip we were pretty pooped. It was interesting, though, and we had access to their chief economist, who is constantly quoted in newspaper articles. A Harvard man.

In our travels we briefly went through Oxford Street, which is the gay area I wanted to check out tonight, but that's obviously not happening. If I can coax a few people into coming with me tomorrow, and if I'm feeling better, I may venture out. We learned on one of our tours that Sydney supposedly has the biggest gay population of any city in the world, even beating San Francisco. Not sure if that's per-capita or what.

Another big day tomorrow! Pray for my recovery ... I don't want to end up like this guy:

Employees of St. Vincent's Hospital practice saving a dummy from cardiac arrest.

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