Tuesday, November 2, 2010

And I'm Back in the Game

Well after much demand, I'm back i business. After leaving Australia I decided that my life was not nearly exciting enough to continue this blog, but I am now officially back by popular demand. I do not make any promises that this new attempt at blogging will be anywhere near as entertaining as previously, but I do however to be as warped and blunt as always. Also, this marks a decided change in my day to day blogs. As compared to simply a daily journal of my activities, I will provide my own personal commentary to each life situation. Please imagine any commentary presented as if read by Morgan Freeman, who, given enough money, I would hire to narrate my life in prose. This change is mainly due to the monotony of my life, which here it is in a nutshell:

But aside from this, I have taken upon myself to lose some weight. Not much, just 70 or so pounds. It came to my attention that I was becoming a little robust, as in I noticed I was starting to have my own gravitational pull and paper-clips would spontaneously start to circle around me. The weirdest part is that all my fat is located around my stomach. This does not make sense to me and I wish to be free of this what I like to call a "built-in plate and cup holder". So in order to lose this average sized 5th grader worth of weight I decided to severely limit my calories for 6 weeks, and then do the whole "let's be fashionable" Atkins diet. Well I must say I have been pleasantly surprised by both my will power and the results. As of this morning I have lost 41 pounds and 7 inches around my stomach in 6 weeks. However, I can not say that this diet has been easy nor pleasant. The worst part was when three weeks in, on a Sunday morning in church no less, I saw a doughnut on the table and thought to myself, "I would punch a kitten for just one bite." I quickly put the thought away as I do not enjoy prison, and sat down for Sunday School. I will make it eventually, so wish me luck and don't ask me out to dinner.

Stay hungry,

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An update for update's sake

So this week has been, what I consider, one of the top 5 most boring weeks of all time. A monsoon hit Perth last weekend in which we got 6 inches of rain and winds up to 60mph. So I couldn't really do anything fun and exciting. So I was here this weekend, doing nothing, with 3 tv channels. So as you can imagine pure boredom ensued. Today is probably the first day in a week that we have good weather, so to celebrate I'm going out to diner tonight is downtown perth, so that should be fun. Tomorrow night I am going to dinner with my research group to an authentic Lebanese restaurant, which should be interesting. The website looks good enough so we will see. This weekend I have tickets with my advisor here to go see a footy match, which I can not wait for. I have been told that these are intense in person and I am excited to go. I think I decided today that I'm over Australia for the most part. 8 weeks is a long time to be away from home and I am missing everyone a lot. Only 3.5 more weeks to go, I think I can make it. Anyways I hope to post again this weekend so keep posted.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

And remember, we are entering a desert-like situation....

So my week was boring so I apologize for the long time between posts, but honestly, how many of you care about how my results are going for the superconducting quantum interference device or how T2 relaxation times are affected when using magnetic nanoparticles in a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer? (Don't worry, I don't know what they do either) But for those of you who do care, they are going well and I am getting results as expected.
So this weekend I decided to take a guided tour, which was well worth the extra money. A lot less planning and hassle is required when everything is already set up for you. So we get to the bus and meet our swiss tour guide Hans, who is a nice guy and pretty funny. So we hop on the behemoth 4 wheel drive tour buses and head off to the desert. On the way there we stop at Caversham wildlife reserve, where we had a chance to see some animals up close. First off, we went by the koala exhibit where we got to pet a koala. These things a really weird up close. They don't even look real, almost like stuffed animals. But since koalas sleep 20 hours a day, they weren't very active and was sorta boring. I did however find out that the reason they sleep for so long is because the eucalyptus tree they eat is toxic and so they spend the whole day in a drug induced stupor. We then went to the Kangaroo pen, which I found as the most awesome. We entered a pen with about 70 kangaroos all jumping around. We were then given the privilege of feeding the kangaroos out of our hands. As you can imagine, 70 hopping 7 foot tall kangaroos all hungrily leaping at your hands was a very relaxing experience. But I did get to see some joeys in pouches so that was pretty cool. We then went to hold a wombat, but she (the wombat) was being mean so we couldn't hold her. We then got back on the bus and continued our ride through the bush. Let me just tell you, you never realize how big Australia is until you ride through the bush for 3 hours. Mile after mile of scrub brush with one tree out in the middle of nowhere. Needless to say I fell asleep. So we finally get to the Pinnacles which are just really weird. They are calcified roots from umpteen years ago that have been exposed from the wind removing the sand. So what you have left is just a bunch of limestone pillars (thousands of them) out in the middle of the desert. From the view on top it was sort of looking out over a graveyard, each pillar representing a tree that once stood there. Some of them were in neat shapes, such as the one called the Queen, which was shaped like a queens head. I can't begin to explain the vastness of this place, so a picture will have to do.

This picture is neat because it is the ocean meeting the bush meeting the desert. After roaming the desert for an hour, we then took off and headed to the sand dunes for some adventure. So originally when I signed u for this tour, it advertised "4 wheeling over sand dunes" so I figured that meant dune buggies, or atvs, or jeeps, or something. Nope, that meant the tour bus. Yep, a bus, riding over sand dunes. So we climbed a big dune an zipped right on down. It was sort of like being on a roller coaster, except with a plush maroon and grey interior. It was a lot steeper than I thought it was, judging by this picture.

So after a few runs at the dune we all got off and tried our hand at sand boarding. This is a lot like snowboarding, except for the gritty eye, nose and mouth after effects. I tried it once but I was too heavy to make it go fast, so I just stood at the bottom and watched people go and wipe out, which was a lot of fun. Here is my favorite video I took.

That girls face was covered in sand, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, you name it, it had sand in it. There was of course the occasional little kid who produced a spectacular wipe out, but who likes to see kids hurt themselves? Anyways after an hour of sandboarding the sun began to set, which by the way, if you ever get the chance to see the sun set over a desert, do so. It was the most unique and beautiful colors I have ever seen.

Anyways that was my Saturday. On Sunday I had the bright idea to experience Perth in the afternoon and go shopping. If any of you ever find yourself in Perth on a Sunday afternoon, do yourself a favor and decide not to go shopping. All of Perth's 1.3 million residents came out to go shopping. I've never seen so many awkwardly dressed teenagers in my life. Anyways after 2 hours of walking around realizing that I cant afford anything here, I decided to head back home. And since it has become my tradition to tell at least one funny story of my weeks adventures, mine came on the bus ride back home from Perth. So I get on the bus and theres only like 3 people one it, 2 people in the back making out and some granny with a walker sitting in the handicap seats. So I decide to sit in the handicap seats across the bus from her(don't judge, they weren't in use and they are comfortable). So about 15 minutes into our ride this lady hits the button to get off and then stands up. She then realizes that this was not the stop she wanted but was further down. At this point any rational human being that requires the use of a walker would sit back down and wait for the bus to get to the right stop, but not this granny. She decides that the best course of action is to remain standing for the next quarter mile before we get to her spot. Imagine a baby deer in the middle of a frozen lake and you have somewhat of the mental image of this granny trying to stay standing. After scooting from one side of the bus to the other and many gyrations in order to not fall, we finally came to the big one. A speed bump. As the bus driver did not realize that there was an 80 year old passenger subway surfing the last quarter mile with a walker, he did not slow down very much for the speed bump. Granny got air. And here comes moose the the rescue. I leap up, grab granny with one arm and her walker with the other, spin around and set here back down safe and sound with her walker firmly in place. Actually, thats not really how things went. She went flying, I jumped up to catch her and she knocked us both down. So here we are sideways in a handicapped seat, me on bottom, old lady on top, followed by a walker, tennis balls in the air. We then slowly got up and had a few awkward smiles back and forth. When we realized that everyone was alright and no one was hurt, she slowly made her way to the exit. The only thing she said to me the entire ordeal was as she was getting off this bus, which was, "I'd thank you for saving me but I'm pretty sure this story is good enough" to which she exited and gave me a big denture smile. I love public transportation.
Anyways, till my next adventure, Cheers.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Any of you play the didge?

So I spent the last two days walking. No joke, both days. On Saturday me, Rory and Brian decided to go to South Perth for the day instead of Yanchep because the train was down this weekend and it would have taken a lot of money in taxi fares to get there. So we went to the Zoo on saturday which was really cool since they had an entire section dedicated to Australian animals. So we got to see wombats, numbats, kangaroos, koalas, and some other neat stuff you can see in my pictures. Oh, I uploaded them on picasa so if you don't have Facebook you can look at them as well. See them here. I probably won't comment on them there though since thats a lot like work. I might if I get adventurous. So anyways the zoo was probably the best zoo I have ever been to. All the animals were right in the open. Some of the animals were inside a giant cage that you went into. Just out in the open. Like if you wanted you could try to run an catch one, you could. We had a good laugh at some poor soul when a kangaroo tried to run him over. Well anyways, after a long day at the zoo we went and looked at Perth from across the river and that was very pretty. I also took the ferry back home which was probably the lest efficient option but the most fun.

On Sunday we went to Freemantle, the port city of Perth, known affectionately around here as "Freo". We were all supposed to meet at 12 a restaurant in town, but we all showed up at different times. I actually got to the city about 11:30 but due to my poor map reading skills and the half hour it took before I realized my map was upside down, I got to the restaurant about 12:15. We ate a place called Kaili's and ate there fish n chips. It was fantastic. We then walked around the city for a little bit, exploring the old prison house and maritime museum. Both were pretty neat and had a lot of old history to them. We then went to the markets, which is basically the jockey lot with more Asian stuff and lots of Tarot card readers. I was impressed because usually I am a sucker for neat trinkets, and I din't buy anything. I'm having a hard time finding what I would classify as neat souvenirs for people. Everything here worth taking back is one: made of wood, which is a no-no for customs or two: ridiculously expensive. You would not believe how much stuff costs here. I don't know how people do it. We then left the markets and wandered into a shop called Didgeriddo Breath which was an experience. We were greeted by what I imagine as the spokesperson for the legalization of marijuana. He greeted us with "insert generic stereotypical Jamaican greeting said in an Australian accent" which just sounded absurdly amazing. After realizing none us actually knew what he said he asked "So any of you play the didge?" To which we responded in nervous giggling. I mean seriously, how many people would actually answer yes to that question? Yes, I play the didgeridoo. It just so happens that I am what you call an expert. I have a black belt in didgeridoo. As a matter of fact, they named it after me, Moose Didgeridoo, nice to me you. For those of you wondering, a didgeridoo is a long hollowed out piece of wood that you essentially spit in to while making funny noises with your lips and it makes a really low, quite annoying sound. I think it is native to Australia and the aborigines. Well after leaving the store and clearing my nostrils and head of left over "herbal remedies" floating around in the store, we decided to walk back to the coast and catch some dinner. On the way we encountered one of the most awful street performers I have ever had the displeasure of coming across. He was dressed as a purple pirate with a feathered cap. He was badgering the crowd with some terrible jokes (I mean terrible) trying to lead up to a sword swallowing. So he claimed he was going to light a sword on fire and swallow it, but what it essentially came down to was he lit the handle on fire and swallowed the rest. The end result was not nearly worth the ear-butchering I received from his foul attempt at humor. After a little more aimless wandering through the city, we finally made it to dinner. We ate at Cicerellos and watched the sunset over the harbor. I wanted swordfish but the lady talked me into red snapper, which was good. We then headed home. I hopped on the bus an made it to the city of Perth just in time to miss the last bus back to Crawley (where I live), so I was stuck taking a taxi. I'll remember for next time that traveling on Sundays with public transportation is not the easiest or best thing to do.
So as for my next travels I don't know what I should do. I have several options.
1. Go to AQWA (Aquarium Western Australia). This is supposed to be a fantastic aquarium with most viewing from an underwater tunnel.
2. Go to Yanchep national Park. There a kangaroos and koalas and underground caves and such.
These are the two smaller trips. I also have enough money for one big trip. I can go to:
1. Margaret River Valley. They have really sweet adventures such as walking in treetops 40 meters up or exploring old caves and such.
2. Exploring Pinnacles parks. Looks pretty fun

I was also thinking about going to Bali. Vote in the comments for where you think I should go. Anyways thanks for reading mate and keep in touch. And remember that are two types of people in this world, didgeridoo's and didgeridont's


p.s. I saw a sign today that said 50% off Ham and Turkey! It's like Christmas in Winter!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Some more rubbish

Two posts in two days? Look at the big man go. Well just to keep you informed I am going on two adventures in two days. Saturday I am going to Yanchep national park were I'm sure I will bring back some nice pictures of wildlife and the like. I also hope to do some spelunking there so that should be fun. On Sunday I plan on going to Freemantle, the port city outside of Perth. Here I will be taking a tour of the coastline and all port towns there. Also there are some old underground prison tunnels I hope to go explore. Next weekend I hope to go to AQWA, (Aquarium Western Australia) which has on of the world largest undersea tunnels, so that should be sweet. Finally on a side note unrelated to Australia, I have started up P90X again. Let me be the first one to tell you that Chinese water torture is a walk in the walk compared to P90X. My legs today are about as useless as an ashtray on a motorcycle.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A lot of firsts

So here is an update on what has happened the last few days. First of all my roommates moved out. I had no idea they were planning on leaving and left me with nothing. I have no plates, silverware, pots, pans, knives etc.... So we'll see how that goes. I have also realized my apartment has no climate control, which is a bit different, and chilly. So anyways work has been good, kind of slow. The experiments I am running take about 30 hours a piece so I have been doing a lot of paper/proposal/presentation writing in the downtime.

Anyways to the parts people care about. I went out last night with a few friends from the program I'm here with and we went to a place in downtown Perth called Outback Jack's. We walked in and the lady took our drink orders and in about 5 minutes they came. Well about 30 minutes later still no one had come to take are orders. We finally flagged someone down and they had a good laugh at our expense. Apparently we had to walk to the back of the kitchen and place an order at the butcher like window. So we did and I ordered a sampler plate. It had steak, crocodile, and kangaroo. My takes on the meat, steak was good, but you knew that already. Crocodile tastes like a flounder and chicken had a baby and you ate it. It was alright but not my favorite. Kangaroo was delicious. It tasted somewhere in between steak and deer. They had camel on the menu but I just could not bring myself to try it. Maybe next time. We then went and got some desert and went on our way. The real story of the night came on the bus ride home. Let me warm you up to the story. First of all, this was my first experience trying to catch a bus back home by myself so I was a little worried I had gotten on the wrong bus. At one of the stops this plastered Australian dude gets on in full crocodile gear. Full gear, no joke. He is also missing is 4 front teeth and looks to have recently soiled himself. At this point the bus is moderately full and I have an open seat next to me. I try not to make eye contact, try to look busy, but how do you look busy when sitting on a bus? I shimmied my seat a little to make it look like there was less room than there actually was. I even went as far to set my bag down next to me. None of these acted as a deterrent and sure enough, big drunk Crocodile Dundee plots his dead animal jeans right next to me and gives me a large, toothless grin, and said "G'day mate!" which smelled of cottage cheese and whiskey. After a few blessed moments of silence here is how our conversation went:

Drunk Guy on bus: I don't mean to yabber on at ya mate, but you haven't got a few zacks on ya? My change has gone walkabout.
Me: Excuse me?
Drunk guy on bus: Oh you're a bloody seppo ain't you?
Me: It's a possibility.
Drunk guy on bus: Well I'm trying to shoot through Clairmont and I seem to be
a few coins short.
Me: I'm sorry man I don't have any change to spare.
Drunk guy on bus: Well I guess I'm just rooted. You mean to tell me in that port of yours you don't have any money?
Me: No sir I don't
Drunk Guy on Bus: How about a durry?
Me: Sir I have no idea what you are talking about.
Drunk guy: A ciggy mate. You honestly ain't an aussie is ya?
Me: Not in the least
Drunk guy: Well sorry for the bother mate. Cheers

At this point he breaks out into some song, which I would love to tell you the words to for added humor but I just could not understand them. At this point he finally gets up, declares his love for footy (Australian rules, sort of like rugby) and cold weather, and gets off the bus, well short of Clairmont. While I found his company rather amusing, it did reveal something to me. Australians don't speak English. This whole time I have been fighting to understand what people around me are saying and I have now taken it upon myself to learn Aussie and impart to you the tidbits that I learn. As for my previous conversation, upon asking people around here this is what I have learned.
yabber: to talk to the point of annoyance
zachs: coins
seppo: american
rooted: screwed (usually vulgar)
port: bag
durry: cigarette

Anyways I am hoping to go to Freemantle this weekend and maybe Yanchep National Park. I'll keep you posted.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Australia (A crash course)

So just to let everyone know and get up to date, I will be spending the next 8 weeks in Australia. i hope to see as much as I can and I will be sure to keep everyone up to date on my adventures.

So this is my first trip outside the US (45 min in Canada doesn't count) and it has been quite an experience so far. The flight was pretty miserable, ~28 hoursish. I never realized how hard it was to sit down until that plane ride. It wasn't too bad though since I had movies on demand so I watched I think 7? Anyways I arrived in Sydney on the 15th of June and was promptly tagged by the customs officials as a danger to myself and the whole country of Australia with my beef jerk and fruit snacks. I have never been attacked by so many beagles at the same time before. Ferocious little buggers when they smell someone foreign to pick on. Anyways after having to throw away all my food away, I made it to the domestic terminal. We boarded a flight to Canberra after about a 4 hour delay, and made it safely to orientation. I'm here with about 20 other American grad students doing some research for the national science foundation. For orientation we went to the Australian war memorial (these things are everywhere here), which was pretty. The real treat for the day was attending question time at parliament house. This a period of time where the prime minister has to answer both scripted and unscripted questions from his own part and the opposing party. Let me start off by saying this was ridiculously funny. I would say that the hour and a half was about 99% show and 1% government. Let me give you a small example:

Prime Minister: Hi I'm the prime minister, and most people don't like me. In order to fix this I am raising the taxes significantly on the only profitable industry in Australia, mining.
Opposing party Question: Excuse me sir, does this not sound stupid?
Prime minister: You are wearing an ugly suit.
Party in power: Prime minister, is it not true that your taxes are the best thing since the moon landing and mozzarella cheese in stick form?
Prime minister: Well thank you what a marvelous question. But before I answer this I would like to ask to not be removed from power. Also, Somalia's shares are up 1.7% this morning, if you care to know, which can be attributed to a global recovery due to my efforts.
Opposing party question: Can we break for tea?

Overall a good laugh but not much accomplished. After our time in Canberra, all of us went our own way to the individual cities where we are doing research. Mine just so happens to be Perth, the most isolated city in the world (no lie, look it up). So here is my overall take of Australia thus far:
1. People here love their coins. They have 6 different types each weighing in a half kilo. I think this is so no one can sneak up on you, as your jingling change can be heard by Helen Keller.
2. Veggie-mite is pure hog snot, don't let the locals tell you otherwise.
3. Everything is bigger here and probably has you on the menu. A kookaburra landed on my porch last night and those things are much bigger that Nat Geo gives them credit for. Also, they have quite the devilish laugh.
4. We call you mate because we can't remember your name.
5. Everything is expensive, imagine doing your business inside Yankees stadium and thats what everything costs. I.E. Coke-3.50, burger-9.00, peanut butter-9.50, shampoo-7.50, an so on.
6. Everything is beautiful and people are friendly, laid back, and in no hurry. My type of place.
7. Mid morning tea is serious!

I started work yesterday and it is much like I expected. Hurry up and wait a bit. I'm sure things will start picking up in the upcoming days. Anyways thats all for now and I'll keep you posted


Hello all

And by all I mean whoever cares enough to give a read. As many of you may know, I'm what they consider an anti-blogger, in fact I just don't plain get it. However, in light of the many of you I am away from this is probably the easiest way to keep in touch with folks and let them know of my adventures in Australia and life. So buckle up, keep your hands inside the moving vehicle at all times, and enjoy the ride.