Friday, July 29, 2005
To infinity...
So I'm in my last few hours in Australia for a while. Headed to New Zealand to take a visit there, and will be meeting up with my mom in Auckland. Then its a whirlwind tour through New Zealand followed by a 3 city tour of Australia. Then its back to Sydney for my last few days here. Won't be posting much till then most likely, but I'll be back with plenty of stories to tell.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Pig Latin and grammar
Here's a question for all you linguists out there. We start out with a phrase in English. We want to translate into Pig Latin by chopping off the first letter if its a consonant and appending it and the suffix -ay to the end of the word, or just adding -way at the end if it starts with a vowel. This is all fine and good for translating whole senctences, as the grammar works itself out in most ways.

The question I have is for those circumstances when a single word is being obfuscated through the use of Pig Latin. What effect should the modification of this word have on the rest of the sentence or phrase. For example, lets say your dog jumps up and yips every time you say the word 'walk'. If you were to be talking to someone, intending to say 'Let's go for a walk', but just wanted to change the last word so as to not get the dog excited, how does the rest of the sentence get effected by it. Would it be 'Let's go for a alk-way' or 'Let's go for an alk-way'

My guess is that people would speak it the first way, as the intention to change the word in normal conversation wouldn't be thought of until the last second, too late to change the previous word. However, if it's written I'm wondering which way would be correct. Not that there is any real 'correct' way to write pig latin, but I'm just curious. These are the sort of things that I take time to think about. Real quandaries!


Sunday, July 24, 2005
"You can't carry me, you're gonna break your schnitzel" -Janice to Rich


Saturday, July 23, 2005
Then they look away
Janice and Rich have been here for a few days now. We've done a bit of a whirlwind tour of the best places to see in Sydney, and will continue to do so till they head for New Zealand on Thursday. So far its been lots of walking around the city - Chinatown, Glebe, Circular Quay, Manly and the Fish market for starters. We've also managed to drink a lot of nice wine, have a couple of homemade dinners - a Lemon Garlic Chicken dish and a Brazilian Shirmp Stew with Shrimp Head Soup.

We also had some company from Alyssa from Biofutures who came down for the weekend. Her stay at my place was capped off with breakfast this morning in Glebe with Johann and Paulo (other Biofutures people) followed by a spin through the Saturday markets there. Janice, Rich, Ching and I finished the day with a waffleicious Wafflemania sundae from Sugarplum.

Now we are headed off to Andrew 1's late b-day party where more fun is sure to be had by all.


Monday, July 18, 2005
Tres Anos Now in our third year. It's hard to believe its been that long already. It feels like only yesterday when we found out wellplayed was taken, and had to chose between smallwalls and coveredinbees. Actually, the original name was to be 'aseriesofsmallwalls' but it was decided that such a name would be too long, and a bit cumbersome for people to understand, so it was shortened to the name you all know and love.


Saturday, July 16, 2005
Sentimental post written upon our return from a long night out
From the Queen impersonators at Darling Harbour to Scruffy Murphy's to the Shark Hotel to 3 Wise Monkeys to the Coolabar to Hungry Jacks and Kebabs to our karaoke in the car to Hey June, it was an amazing last night. Thanks to Lisa, Yan, Joe, Jeff, Ching, Philipp, Babs, Andrew, and Nat for all making it such a wonderful last night out with everyone. To Joe and Lisa, farewell, have an amazing trip, and never forget Australia!


Friday, July 15, 2005
Ain't no wonderland
My body decided today would be the day it totally flipped out on me. I got up nice and early, a few minutes before my alarm went off, refreshed and ready to spend the day finishing up my research paper. After a quick shower, I threw some laundry in and did a few housekeeping things while it was running, with the intent to put it outside and then get working. After hanging it up outside under a nice, clear, blue sky, I came inside and my body just decided to give up.

I sat down at the computer while an anvil pounded furiously on the inside of my skull. After attempting for 5 minutes to type, and not being able to finish a sentence, I plodded to the bathroom to find some good old American headache relief. Having finished the small amount of advil I originally brought several months back, I popped a pair of tylenol gelcaps. And just a few minutes later the nausea started.

Rather than sitting at the computer in pain, I decided to just lie down for a bit to see if it would pass. I opted for the couch, where I would have a few papers to read if my eyes would focus, and where I would be less likely to fall asleep. A short while later Ching popped back into the apartment (she'd left an hour or so earlier) and seeing me in pain tried her best to make me comfy and get me anything I might need. I said I would be alright, told her not to worry, and that I would see her when she got back from work at the end of the day. No sooner did she leave then I fell asleep.

Groggily rubbing my eyes, I looked out through the window to see that time and a storm system has passed during my slumber. Three and a half hours had gone by, leaving me with a crick in the neck from the too small to sleep on couch, although my body certainly felt better than it had earlier. Ching got home shortly thereafter, while I still couldn't focus on getting anything done. By 6pm I finally was pulling myself together somewhat, got a few ideas together, at which point my body made it clear that it needed some food.

A quick trip to Coles for some chicken soup, and a somewhat leisurely dinner to enjoy it later, and I was finally ready to put in some serious effort. Somehow the whole day had gone by without me getting much done, but the past few hours have been pretty productive. Most likely I'll still need tomorrow to finish it up, but I don't think my body could throw anything more at me right now, so I'm sure that tomorrow will be an up early, productive early, get the paper done early kind of day.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005
And a side of fries
A random thing about me...
I like letters better than numbers; Specifically in screennames, email addresses and the like. I can't explain why this is, but I always feel that numbers are an easy way of coming up with something instead of being creative with words. Maybe words just fascinate me too much.

While numbers are fun to play with, they will always do the same things, or can be acted on in a similar way, for the most part. With words, changing a few around can completely change thoughts and perceptions. While I know a few changes in numbers can drastically change a system, the effect seems all the more powerful with a few simple words. Possibly I just like the near infinite way of playing with words to get them to say exactly what you want. Numbers are exact, but there's no challenge, no creativity in getting them to do what you want them to.

I don't know exactly at what point I made the transition into a words person, and my mind definitely works better with numbers, but I'm enjoying writing more than I ever expected I would be. Of course, after nearly 4 years on here you'd think I would have realized this by now, but sometimes those self reflections take time to fully develop. And of course when I started writing this, it was purely about screennames. Guess my mind likes to twist and turn its way around a seed of an idea to find its own path. And I could never do that with a string of numbers.


"How many alphabets are in it?" - Ching, after first asking how many words, when she was supposed to be guessing someones name.


Monday, July 11, 2005
I've found that attempting to fit in the time to write up everything I want to about Brisbane isn't going to happen quickly. I'm still finishing up my masters research project, and unfortunately everything else is taking a back seat to that. I will likely end up with post about the days, one by one as they are significantly longer than I expected. So much for Ms. Pac Man.

In other news, a few of us had dinner of Jodie's (from ISS) last night. Myself, Lisa, Joe, Jeff, Yan, and Airin traipsed over to Newtown (with the help of Yan's car) and had a wonderful meter long spaghetti filled evening. We arrived at a little after 6 and sampled Austrian wintertime tea, fortified with an unknown Austrian spirit, and gorged ourselves on sweet chili crackers and some wine before settling down for the main course. The sauce was made with minced chicken, tomatos, and other vegetables and was delicious, as was the garlic bread cut Australian style (Without the long cut running the length of the bread). Dessert was rum balls made by myself, Lisa, and Ching, as well as Anise cookies from Joe. Both were delicious, and way too many were eaten by all. We finished off with some champagne, good conversation on everything from politics, to travel, to sport, and made our way home full, satisfied, and a bit misty eyed that very few evenings like this one remain for all of us.

It really was a wonderful time. Jodie's house was wonderful and pink, and gigantic. With a little back yard and tons of character, it made me excited to be getting ready to find another new place of my own. It's also been hard knowing that so much of what we do now is 'the last'. Even with Lisa and Joe leaving in just a week and others following every week after that, it's still hard to believe that the Australian segment of my life is coming to a close. A year and a half has flown by and given me friends everywhere across the globe. While I'm excited about the next phase of my life, I'm also sad to be leaving this one behind. Onwards to the next adventure I guess - it's not like we have to leave everything here behind - the people and friendships will remain. And on that sappy note, I shall force myself to stop.


Sunday, July 10, 2005
After 18 months...
For the first time in a year and a half I have a new flatmate. Her name is Ching, and she's a wonderful person. For me though, it is quite sad that I no longer have a Lisa around. After a year and a half the two of us had grown quite close, and it's sad to now think what life will be like without her. It just won't be the same without her around to joke with, to throw things at, and generally to harass like a sibling. To quote Ching "there's so much that can be said about Lisa. I cant write it all down, it's just the way she is."

Lisa is just a wonderful person, and she will be missed greatly. Luckily she'll be the closest of anyone from here to me once back in the states, but a 2 hour flight is still too far away for such a great girl.


Saturday, July 09, 2005
On a scale of one to slut
We interrupt your regularly scheduled biofutures update to bring to you pictures. A random assortment of my shots from the week. Captions and possibly other's pictures to come later. Biofutures 2005 Pictures.


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.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Not being much of a playwrite, I have nevertheless decided to present Biofutures in 3 Acts, simply so that I will actually be able to get bits of the story out in a reasonable time frame. Also, it lets me name the acts in the style that first came into mind, which happened to be Ms. Pac-Man cutscenes, despite the obvious irrelevance of the actual act names to my tale.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Since there seem to be lots of new readers out there today (bifutures people most likely) say hi and let me know you're here. I tend to write here often - ranging from daily when I have the time to weekly when I'm swamped with work. So take a browse through the archives and learn a little bit about what makes me up. Any questions - just send me an email.


Instead of a placeholder
This is just a quick note to let everyone know I'm back in Sydney. Im working on writing up a bit about Biofutures and Brisbane, but it will probably have to get posted in pieces if any other work is going to get done. Suffice it to say, I had an amazing time with the students and other mentors, as well as in my stay with Linda (who's story is also to follow).


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