Friday, July 08, 2005
Act 1: They Meet
I'm back, and at a loss for words on how to describe my last 2 weeks. For starters I'll start with a bit about where I was and what I did and see how things move on from there. The story begins not that long ago in a place about a 5 minute walk from where I am now...

It was the middle of February. I was walking down the corridor of the 5th floor in the biomedical engineering building and stopped at the bulletin boards to see what new things had been posted. As it was the beginning of a new semester, it was chocked full or articles, available research positions, and other assorted notices. On the left hand board, at the bottom right hand corner, was a 2 page flyer entitles Biofutures, along with a funky DNA based logo. Intrigued, I eased the thumbtack out slowly, only to have it slip from my grasp once it was free, sending the two unstapled pages spiraling slowly to the ground in opposite directions. Recovering them, I read about a program in Queensland where high school students can get a feel for biotechnology and biomedical engineering, through innovative lectures, workshops and community events, all in a social camp-like environment. I knew right away that it was something I wanted to do, although it ended up taking a few days till I actually downloaded my own copy of the application and sent it over.

Several weeks later I received an email welcoming me to the mentor team, and the next several months were spent emailing back and forth organizing details ranging from transport to first aid courses. Eventually all the details were squared away and I was on my way to Brisbane on the 23rd of June.

My flight to Brisbane was quite uneventful aside from a 30 minute weather delay. I touched down and headed to the baggage carousel where I was quickly spotted by Cath, Kieryn, and Paulo (who had just got in shortly before I had). My bag came out quickly and we were soon on our way to find the car in the parking lot. Only a few rows off, we eventually made it there, stuffed the bags inside, and were off.

The destination was a house that sat next to the Wilston train station, where Kieryn, Alyssa and Dan (all mentors) lived, and the trip there was filled with plenty of banter as I settled in effortlessly with the new crowd. After dropping off our bags, we decided that dinner was in order, and headed over to the local fish and chips place for some grub. Ordering a 9 piece family dinner in addition to a plate each of regular and beer battered chips, we had more than enough food to feed a small army. There was even a quick game of hide the imitation red dragon fruit Snapple drink (it does have a real name, but the bottle design was nearly identical). From there a few of us headed to the local video store where we debated which movie to choose, eventually settling on the classic ĎBlazing Saddlesí. Sadly, Cath left us before we could get too far into it as she was staying with her Aunt. Afterwards was just some idle chatter before a bit of sleep before the next dayís orientation session.

I awoke early on Thursday, took a quick shower and we headed off for the University of Queensland (UQ). We got led into room where the orientation was to take place, just a few minutes after we were supposed to have arrived, and had a good chat about what the week would bring. This was followed up by a bit of a walking tour around the UQ campus to get us acclimated with where we would be bringing the students, as well as to where we would be living for our week there.

After we finished at UQ we hopped in cars and went over to the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). After trying to find a parking spot unsuccessfully, Paulo and I jumped out of the car and went to meet everyone else while Kieryn headed home to take care of other things. We had our quick tour of the place, and then were left to our own devices. Most of us elected to have a quick walk around Brisbane, although I headed back on the train not to long after to have a bit of time to work on my Masters research paper. I didnít manage to get too much done though before I was headed back into the city for a Young Scientists of Australia (YSA) event. A number of the Biofutures mentors are also YSA members, and no one could turn down going out for pancakes, especially when the restaurant is an old converted church. Incidentally, it is owned/run by the same people who do the Pancakes on the Rocks here in Sydney as the menus were nearly identical.

After dinner a few of us headed over to the movies to see what was playing there, and we ended up watching Madagascar in a beautiful old style cinema. It was fun, well done, and as everyone has said, the penguins were wonderful. Plus it was good to see New York for a bit, even in animation. After the movies we attempted to head into one of the local pubs for a drink but were stopped because I didnít have my passport with me. An odd occurrence because in all my time here Iíve never not had my American id accepted, but we shrugged it off and just decided to get home and get a decent night sleep.

The next morning was a bit of Brisbane exploration with Cath as she came by and we headed downtown. A bit of walking and not much shopping later found us at the clock tower in the middle of Brisbane. We headed inside and found that it was free to go up to the top. After reading some of the interesting historic type panels all around we got into the steel cage elevator (complete with attendant) and had a long, slow ride up the 9 stories. Just as we got out at the top the bell started ringing, and we were treated to twelve dongs as the noon hour struck. Quite fortuitous to get there at that exact time. We also got wonderful, sweeping views of the city in all directions as it was a relatively clear day. Downstairs we took a brief jaunt into the museums on the ground floor, looking at a Buddha exhibit as well as an abstract sculpture one. Then we attempted to walk around some of the pretty churches, only to find them all closed and locked.

We decided we might as well head back home, and we arrived there just as Alyssa and Dan were getting back from the corner store with a bag of wedges. Deciding that one bag was not enough for the 4 of us (and anyone else who might get home at any point), Lyss and I walked back to the store to buy another bag. The next several hours were spent watching the first season of Coupling as we ate bags and bags of wedges. Afterwards we had burrito night, where all our efforts combined to produce some high quality delicious chicken lime burritos. Again we ended up talking the night away, and then headed to sleep and dreamt of the following morning, when we would start the camp, and the kids would arrive.


Oh oh oh, the secret incredient in the burritos... LIME!!! Secret is out buster! :) That was the BEST Mexican I've ever had, three cheers for good burritos.. (I liked the burritos).
Darn! Now I'll have to come up with a super secret ingredient for next time and remember not to ever give it away.
Guess I was a few days late, reading your blog and getting the first installment, but now I am all caught up. Cant wait to hear more about your adventures.
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