Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Fudder muckers

So you know those mud run/obstacle course events that are getting popular lately, like Tough Mudder? Well, I did a 5K one called The Stampede. And it was so fun! You enter as a team, and no one is timed, and the start times are staggered, to prevent huge back-ups at the obstacles- so you can be as relaxed or as intense as you desire. Since I was getting over a bad cold and my housemate has an injured back, our team (the Fudder Muckers) was definitely on the more relaxed side of the spectrum- although we did manage to complete all obstacles.  The first couple we designed to get you good and dirty- running through deep, thick mud and then wading across a muddy stream.  Most of the obstacles were fairly easy and involved climbing over things, but a couple were downright mean.  For one, you had a climb up a ladder into a large shipping container that was filled with ice water, wade across, and climb out the other side.  My legs were stinging, but judged by the shouts of "ow my nads!" I think the men suffered more on this one.  Some of the obstacles were super fun- a giant slip and slide down a hillside, and a section where you had to climb over abandon cars- it felt like a scene from a zombie movie.  For me and my spaghetti arms, the most difficult part was climbing over those wooden walls you always see in the boot camp scenes of military movies- luckily since it was a team effort I got a boost to help me reach the top.  The most evil obstacle was right near the finish...a trellis of wires, some of which electrified at 10,000 volts, over a mud pit- so the option was either to slither on your belly like a salamder underneath the wires, or just power through and get zapped- although nearly everyone who went for the run ended up falling into the mud anyways. I went for the slither but a wire brushed my back and I did get shocked, and it fucking hurt! I then burrowed so far down in the mud that it would be impossible to get grazed again.

Overall, it was a great day and I would definitely be up for another one- although not sure I could handle the full 20K version.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Ute muster!

It's been a while since I posted on this old thing, but I do have a tale worth telling. A few weeks ago, I attended a Ute Muster.  Not just any Ute Muster, but the biggest one around- the Deniliquin Ute Muster.  So, "ute" is short for utility vehicle, what we Americans would call a pick-up truck.  Therefore, a ute muster is a gathering of utes and the people that love them, complete with all sorts of country music and the type of activities you might associate with country music and pick-up trucks: bull riding, drag racing, tractor pulls, and more. It's also a great place to experience Australian bogan culture- a bogan being an Australian redneck.  My friend Molly and I scored some free tickets through a friend who works for a company that sells meat pies, because clearly such a food item would be marketed at a ute muster.  So we drove for a few hours and crossed the border into New South Wales for a weekend of bogan adventures.  Friday night we stayed in a hotel in town and caught the free shuttle to the Ute Muster, and it did not disappoint.  More pick-up trucks than I've ever seen, a country music concert, and a carnival featuring, of all things, a Bad Boys II themed ride (because if you wanted your carnival ride to be a tribute to Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, you'd obviously go with the sequel).  Yes, I rode it.  (need you even ask?) 

On Saturday, we drove onto the grounds but had to park in the "family" area since we weren't allowed in the "ute-only" area in Molly's little red car ( a blessing in disguise, as several ute muster regulars later told us that they always stay in the family lot since the ute-only lot is known as the "feral lot" due to rampant disgustingness).  It was a full day event, and I must say that the daytime activities were my favorite.  We saw the following events: tractor pull, whip cracking competition, chainsaw competition, tug of war, bull riding, drag racing, WWE-style wrestling, fighter plane flyover, and a horse riding demonstration, Oh, and a lot of souped up utes.  As night fell, we made some friends, drank by some bonfires, and eventually headed to the concert area to catch the 2012 Deni Ute headline act- Kelly Clarkson! Later we ended up at possibly the strangest after party ever in the feral lot- a whole bunch of people dancing to techno music blasting out of some sort of customized DJ ute. 
It ended up being a very fun weekend, and probably the most fun festival I've been to, well, ever. I liked the variety of activities (most festivals are music only) and I've gotta say that country folk are way more friendly and nice than your average Melbourne hipster. And I got to be in a world record for most people wearing blue singlets (tank tops) in one place! Good stuff!  Some pictures below.

we're too classy for this shuttle bus

whatcha gonna do
bull riding

the world record blue singlet count!
obvs we participated

the Deni Ute concert scene

drag racing
hello Ute Muster!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

She bangs*

So I was getting bored with my hair and decided to go for a change. I wasn't daring enough to try a short cut so I went for highlights and bangs.  Yes, bangs (or fringe as they are called here).  They are a pretty big risk, as but hey, why not get a haircut that I'll spend the next two years growing out?  Mostly, I was hoping the end result would be more Marianne Faithfull and less mulletted Eileen, age 11.  The result, probably a bit more towards the latter but at least I'm not bored with my hair anymore!

* For those of who didn't immediately pick up on the Ricky Martin reference, you disappoint me.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bogan burger

So "bogan" is slang for Australian redneck, and one of the pubs in my neighborhood (the Napier Hotel) offers a hamburger that lives up to its name: Bogan Burger.  The bogan burger contains steak, a chicken patty, fried egg, bacon, potato cake (think McDonald's hash brown), beets*, lettuce, tomato, onions, cheese, mayo and pineapple.  Oh, and it comes with potato wedges and cole slaw on the side.  Naturally, I had to try it.  I opted to split it with my friend Nicole, because there's no way I was going to attempt to eat this thing by myself.  It's impossible to pick up, so I ended up eating the chicken and the steak with a knife and fork and did the rest sandwich style. Other than the steak, which was a bit tough, it was actually pretty tasty, especially the hash brown.  Although I don't think I'll ever order it again, unless I take up competitive eating as a hobby.

* Australians call beets "beetroot" and put them on everything. This fondness for beets is much, much weirder than marsupials or driving on the left.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Lucky for me (and you, readers of DCoE), I have friends who send me links that they'll think I enjoy, and when I feel like updating my blog but don't have all that much to say, I can post them.  Like right now!

A couple of science-themed ones to start:

#whatweshouldcallgradschool is a tumblr blog of animated GIFs about grad school- lots of nerdy jokes about lab life and scrounging for free food. Love it! (thanks, JR)

Jenny McCarthy body count tracks deaths in the United States due to vaccine-preventable diseases.  I kinda feel like mocking Jenny McCarthy is like beating a dead horse at this point. A dead horse who is also fucking idiot who deserves the beating. (thanks, Jos)

And one for the non-scientists:

Young me/now me is a blog of photos where people reenact old photos.  (aside to my family- we are so doing this next time I'm home)

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

What I'm Into Lately

1. Saganaki-  I don't know how this wonderful creation had escaped me before my move to Melbourne, but here, saganaki, a delicious piece of pan-fried Greek cheese, is everywhere.  It's traditionally served on its own with a slice of lemon (eat it while it's hot and squeaky!) but also goes well with salads or on pizza.  To the mad Greek genius who invented saganaki, I salute you.

2. Spanish clothing chains.  So, clothes shopping in Australia is the pits.  The clothes are generally low in quality and high in price, and most of my go-to stores like Banana Republic and Ann Taylor don't exist here (hey, I've upscaled since those grad school Old Navy days).  Oh, how I long for Natick Mall.  However, I've found a glimmer of hope in two Spanish chains- the first is MNG, called Mango in some countries.  I like their clothing, and even though it's not particularly inexpensive, at least it seems well made, and their jeans are a bargain for $50, considering it's hard to find decent jeans under $100 in this strange land.  The other store I've become fond of is Zara- it caused quite a stir when it first opened in Melbourne, and I couldn't handle the crowds and the tendency towards weird European trendiness.  However, once the hubub died down a bit I gave it another chance and found myself two pairs of pants and a dress, all on sale.  So consider me a Zara convert.

3.  And now that we're onto clothing chains, on my last trip back to the US I spent a couple of fun days in New York City, and discovered a new amazing Japanese clothing chain- Uniqlo.  It's amazing. Excellent basics in both men and women's clothing, and a wide range of sizes available (i.e. the jeans were long enough for me, so don't worry that everything will be made for tiny Japanese ladies).  Loved it!

4.  Last but not least, I'm seriously into the new cable television  installed in the work lunchroom (or tea room, as they're called here).  Why? Because I can watch the NBA playoffs on my lunch break- yeah Celtics! On the other hand, the people eating lunch during game four of the Eastern Conference Finals may think I'm insane.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Fifty Shades of I Can't Believe I'm Reading This

So most of you are probably aware of the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon- a kinky S&M romance novel targeting an female audience is absolutely flying off the shelves, and it seems like everyone is reading it. I've spotted copies all over town, and whilst I am too ashamed to whip out my dirty book on the tram, other people are not.   It's essentially Twilight for adult females- a romance between a handsome loner with stalkerish tendencies and a young innocent woman, only Christian Grey is not a vamipre, he's a "dominant"  (seriously into whips and chains and the like) and he wants Anastasia Steele as his "submissive".   

My book club selected the first book in the trilogy as our next read, giving me the opportunity to find out what the hype was all about.  First of all, the's not just bad, it's dreadful.  I fully admit to being a bit of a book snob, and sentences like these had me cringing: "The elevator whisks me at terminal velocity to the twentieth floor."  But it was the repetition of words and phrases that made the book nearly unreadable...someone is always gasping or gaping or groaning, and the phrases "my breath hitches" and "I bite my lip" appear at least twenty times each.  I won't go into the plot as not to spoil it, but let's just say there is a lot of sex and most of it is, er, unconventional, and if Christian Grey was not a handsome billionaire, young Anastasia would have run screaming by chapter two.

That being said, and I'm embarrassed to admit, but I did find myself getting sucked's certainly an quick read and I was curious to learn how our Mr. Grey got to be so fucked up in the first place.  A couple of people swore that the second book was better than the first, which is an outright lie in terms of the writing (it's still desperately in need of a heavy-handed editor with a thesaurus), but somewhat true in terms of the plot. And now I have a copy of the third book, so I might just go ahead and finish the trilogy, then read some Steinbeck or Hemingway to rinse out my brain.

I do think it's a great book club selection, as there's a lot to talk about, the book itself and the smash hit it's become.  They say that sex sells, but who knew that included nipple clamps and butt plugs?