Sweet Home Australia! Solo Sailor Jessica Crosses Finish Line

Sailing home  They were all waiting there at Sydney Harbour on Saturday to welcome home 16-year-old schoolgirl Jessica Watson who became the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo, non-stop and without help.

Yes, she has done it. Jessica sailed her yacht, Ella's Pink Lady, across the finish line at the entrance of Sydney Harbour after completing 210 days at sea.

The plucky teenager was one month ahead of schedule and three days shy of her 17th birthday. There will be a real blast at her birthday party.

According to AFP, thousands of people were at the harbourfront - waving banners and many wearing pink - to greet their Aussie girl adventurer.

Jessica's welcoming home party was witnessed by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Australian Jesse Martin, the current world record holder, AFP reported.

A hundred-strong flotilla of boats flocked to see her sail into the harbour in her pink yacht.

Incidentally, Martin set the 327-day record in 1999 when he was aged 18.

Jessica's 23,000 nautical mile journey took her through some of the world's most challenging and treacherous waters.

Her 33-ft yacht sometimes had to sail against 40-ft swells and gale-force winds.

Jessica, who reportedly took up sailing at the age of eight, may not see her achievement recognized by the World Speed Sailing Council which stipulates that the minimum age is 18.

However, her seven-month odyssey still makes her the youngest person to ever sail solo non-stop around the world without help.

In her last posting dated May 13 on her official blog, Jessica wrote: "I can't believe how fast this last week has gone. Only two more sleeps till the finish line!

"Have I mentioned how excited I am? It's like the day before Christmas except I don't ever remember getting this excited about Christmas.

"Two more sleeps till a hot shower, fresh food and, and, and, everything else! Mind you I think it's going to take a fair bit longer than that for the whole 'I've just sailed around the world' thing to sink in. It's just too big to get my head around!" - Markk

Australia (Country Guide)   Reader's Digest - Australia the Beautiful   Australia: Land Beyond Time (IMAX) [Blu-ray]


US Soldiers Go Gaga with Spoof Video

Hello there!  Let's have some light moments, relax, and watch what this group of American soldiers are up to -- they have come up with a male version of pop sensation Lady Gaga's "Telephone"  video hit.

Other than fighting the war in Afghanistan, a group of US soldiers deployed there have gone to do a remake of  a music video homage to Lady Gaga with their own take of a lip-synched rendition of her hit anthem.

Members of the 82nd Airborne Division posted the video on YouTube last week, and it has gone viral, logging more than 260,000 views to date.

The spoof video features an all-male cast.

The website, thesmokinggun.com, presented the video's remarkable backstory and describes the video as "the most entertaining music video homage ever shot in a war zone."

The video, according to The Smoking Gun, was filmed recently inside what appears to be a garage at the Forward Operating Base in Farah Province, Afghanistan.

It was reportedly the brainchild of Aaron Melcher, a married 24-year-old soldier.

When the finished product was in hand, Melcher embedded the video on his Facebook page. There, he described his handiwork as "the hotness" and urged his Facebook pals to "share it with the world."

Melcher told thesmokinggun.com that the video has "blown up way more" than the size of original target audience - a "couple of our friends and family."

We can guess Lady Gaga wouldn't mind the publicity generated by this video on YouTube. - Markk

Alejandro Poker Face