Monday, June 28, 2010

The week in pictures

Australia got a new Prime Minister, and the first female to hold the position- congratulations to Julia Gillard. I'm still a bit baffled by the fact that here in Australia, you can get a new prime minister without an election or a coup. Although it doesn't happen very often, elected members of the ruling party can change their leader, and the thinking behind this move is that the former PM Kevin Rudd's popularity had sunken so low that the party deemed it best to replace him prior to the upcoming election, which isn't technically scheduled yet but will happen by the end of this year. Parliamentary system of government, you are bananas.

In unrelated news, I knocked heads with another girl going up for a header in Sunday's soccer game and am now sporting a massive black eye. Pretty! I did end up going to the doctor to make sure I didn't have a concussion (which I didn't), but he recommended a skull x-ray. Results are coming in tomorrow. I'm fairly confident that it's just a bad bump, though. And I think I'll stick with an ice pack rather than putting a steak on it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

List #43....Countries with disappointing bacon

1. Canada
2. Australia
3. France
4. Germany

Monday, June 21, 2010

Australia Update

When I took this gig back in February, I had a six month employment contract and a temporary work visa that expired in 2010, but I did have the notion that if things were going well, I would try to extend my stay. Anyone who works in science knows that six months isn't enough time to complete a project, especially if you want to get a publication out of it. The new job has been a great fir for me, both career and personality-wise, and after the long and painful grad school experience, it feels very refreshing to actually enjoy science again. And yeah, aside from the work stuff, I'm quite happy with pretty much everything at the moment. So, a couple of months go my supervisor and I had little discussion about my plans and it became clear that I wanted to stay longer and she wanted me to stay longer. The wheels were set in motion, and I ended up getting some internal funding for my current project plus a new one (both related to bacterial pneumonia, for you nerdlings out there), which led to a contract extension and a new visa application. It was approved last week and is good through the end of 2011, so it looks like I'll be staying down under until next December.
Fret not, Bostonians, I'll be back to visit, most likely next spring or early summer. And just in case you're considering vacationing in Australia, visitors are welcome!

New blog posts 3 days in a row- it may be a 2010 record!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rest In Peace, Manute Bol

I liked Manute Bol back in his NBA days- aside from being astonishingly tall and thin, he had a great attitude and was always willing to laugh at himself, like in this classic SNL skit and this prank by Charles Barkley. I was unaware of his humanitarian work in his native Sudan until I read What Is The What earlier this year (which is fantastic, by the way), and once I did a little more reading up on the man, I was thoroughly impressed. A Dinka tribesman, Bol spent the majority of his life raising money and working towards peace in his troubled homeland- some of his efforts are mentioned in this 2006 profile in Sports Illustrated. In a world where someone like Kobe Bryant can win a MVP trophy, it's men like Manute Bol who truly deserve to be lauded. Here's a nice obituary on Bol from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What I've Been Up To, Part II

The blog neglect continues….InLeWriMo is still going strong, and I think daily letter writing has zapped my usual blog posting energy source.

Queen’s Birthday in Surfers Paradise-
We had a 3 day weekend for the Queen’s Birthday, and although I do not know which queen, when it comes to a Monday off from work, I don’t ask too many questions. I flew up to the Gold Coast to meet up with my college friend Alison and her flatmate Jess. Surfers Paradise is essentially the trashy Florida part of Australia, chock full of beautiful beaches marred by high rises, retirees, and teenage partiers. But we knew what we were in for and still had a great time. Plus, it’s gray and cold and windy in Melbourne this time of year, so it was nice to get some sunshine. Most of the weekend was consumed by the World Cup, including a 4am trip to the casino to watch the USA vs. England game amidst a hundreds of drunk Englishmen, or Poms, as they’re called here. A tie never felt so sweet.

In other sporting news, I did watch game 7 and was disappointed that the Celtics couldn’t scrape out a win. As I read somewhere on Facebook: “every time Kobe wins a ring, and angel loses his wings.” To be honest, I think Gasol deserved the MVP more than Kobe.

Lastly but not leastly, am I too old to buy trendy things like fingerless gloves? Well, I don’t care because I love them. So there.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

What I've Been Up To Lately

Hello there, neglected blog! Here's what I've been doing the past few days.

Watching movies:

Animal Kingdom
- Melbourne's very own crime drama. Like most major cities, Melbourne does (did?) have a rather infamous criminal underworld, the subject of the TV hit Underbelly, which I like to call the Australian version of the Sopranos. The characters of the film Animal Kingdom run in similar cicles, with much of the movie centered around a police assassination that actually happened in 1988. Our protagonist is a quiet teenage boy, who, following the death of his mother, moves in with his extended family- his gangster uncles and a grandmother who's just a little too friendly with her own sons. The movie is more of a psychological thriller than an action film, but I did enjoy it.

And since one can't watch crime dramas all the time, the next movie I saw was Sex in the City 2. No, it won't win any Oscars, but it's a fun movie to watch and if you liked the show, you'll definitely like the movie, critics be damned. However, it has recently occurred to me that Sex in the City is somewhat of Golden Girls rip-off. Samantha = Blanche, and Charlotte = Rose. Don't you see it? Miranda could be Dorothy, so it's really only the Carrie/Sophia match that is a little off. Oh, and in the new movie? They wear caftans. You heard it here first.

Reviewing beer:
Check out my latest review on Beer Crusade.

Filet steak with mixed mushrooms and sherry. YUM.

and lastly, here are a couple of links:

Awesome Nike commercial for the World Cup. Woohoo!

Cops find one ton of marijuana in a Dorchester apartment. Ah, good old Dot. The photo does remind me of the "drugs on the table" bit from The Wire, but honestly, that is an astonishing amount of pot.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Cooking blog shoutout

Sarah's been posting some great recipes over on The Pink Shoe Cookbook. In fact, I made her Light Dijon Dill Crusted Salmon tonight for dinner and it was super yum.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Tasmanian Holiday

I just got back from a five day trip through Tasmania, that little island that sits off the southern coast of Australia (and isn't a separate country). D and I sailed overnight from Melbourne on the Spirit of Tasmania, which turned out to be a lot of fun. Something about sailing away on a boat makes you feel like you're headed off on a grand adventure, and luckily the Bass Strait was nice and calm for the crossing- it has a reputation for rough seas. After that, we landed in Devonport and picked up the rental car, a ridiculous bright yellow Hyundai (or Hee-un-dai if your initials are AV) soon dubbed Mellow Yellow for its reluctance to accelerate. We then headed south to Hobart- the whole island only takes about 3 hours to drive across and it's still very sparsely populated- the main highway is a two lane road, passing mostly through farmland. Hobart is a cute little city on the waterfront, and opposed to Melbourne, which is flat flat flat, Hobart is surrounded by hills and a small mountain, Mt. Wellington, looms over the city.

We toured the Cascade Brewery, where beer has been made since 1824, making it the oldest operational brewery in Australia. The building itself is impressive and like many other structures from the 1800s, it was built by convicts. (My new slogan for Tasmania: "Built convict tough." I should have gone into PR.) The tour was a lot of fun- you have to wear safety glasses and a neon vest, and you get to see the entire facility, including the Laverne & Shirley bottling machines. And there's beer at the end!

We hit up the Salamanca market on Saturday morning before a scenic drive and a wine tasting adventure that led us down a dirt road to encounter a strange man who makes wine in his garage and tests it with pH meters and the like. After Hobart, the next destination was the Freycinet penninsula on the east coast with a brief stop at the Freycinet Vineyard, which was a more high-class operation than chemistry set man.

Freycinet National Park lived up to its tagline of "rugged and beautiful," although when you're staying in heated cabins and dining on oysters at the lodge, it's not quite so rugged. We did spend a day hiking out to Wineglass Bay, which ranks among the world's top ten beaches (according to a few travel magazines) and is only accessible by boat or by hiking in on fairly long and steep trail. It was indeed lovely even though it's too cold for swimming at the time of year. Well, that and intimidatingly massive waves.

While on the Freycinet Penninsula, I did encounter some of our furry friends- wild wallabies were all over the park (and notably in the parking lots) and some possums came a callin' on the porch one evening (and left their calling card as well). Fact: Australia possums are like a zillion times cuter than North American ones. We stopped by a nature park to check out their Tasmanian Devils and they did not disappoint, especially at feeding time. The staff feeds them what appears to be hunks of roadkill carcasses and the devils snarl and get all feisty-like. Good stuff. They're pretty cute when they're sleeping, though, and much easier to photograph. Overall, I had a great time in Tasmania and only wish I could have stayed longer.