Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Travel plans

This is still subject to change, but this is my current plan for US travels:

Saturday, May 16: Sydney-DC
Monday, May 19?: DC-NYC via Philly stopover
Maybe some overnights in the NY metro area with friends????
Wednesday, May 28: NYC-LA
Sunday, June 1: LA-Santa Fe (I'm spending the month of June at the Santa Fe Institute)
Friday, June 20: Santa Fe-LA (I finally get sheepskin proof that I am Dr. Abby!)
Sunday, June 22: LA-Santa Fe
Saturday, June 28: Santa Fe-LA
Tuesday, July 1 very late at night: LA-pacific ocean
Thursday, July 3: pacific ocean-Sydney (don't you love the international date line?)

I very much would love to see any and all on this trip...

Friday, April 18, 2008

You know you are a geek when...

A very happy Friday evening is spent watching a double-header of lectures at MIT in differential equations via iTunes U.

This could become addictive and it solves all sorts of problems....

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Food prices really are going up. I just got back from the grocery store, where I bought eggs, milk, and cereal. The total bill? Almost AUD19! Granted I pay for convenient location, organic eggs and fancy multi-grain cereal, but still. I don't track prices closely, but I'm pretty sure that bill would have been much smaller several months ago.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A frustrating adventure

I took a GoGet car on an excursion today, but the whole thing was a bit of a bust. I had wanted to go to Kiama, a town on the South Coast that I have heard good things about, but I didn't really know the distances involved. It turns out to be quite far, and the damned car has a per kilometer charge that was starting to freak me out. So I turned around just short of Wollongong and drove back through the Royal National Forest, which I have also heard good things about. It was beautiful, and there are great and dramatic cliffs down to the ocean, but it was getting late and I didn't really know where to go or what to do.

I left too late, and the south part of Sydney that one goes through to get to the south coast is pretty dreary, so too much of the daylight was spent in horrible suburban strip mall/light industrial sort of landscape, and then, I hate to say it, the dramatic cliffscapes are getting sort of normal--I need some specialness to make it worth it and there just wasn't enough of that.

I blame it all on the car. I am thinking about getting rid of my membership--I'm just not sure it is worth it. I get into such a grumpy fug when I spend time in a car! Getting around by public transport and walking has its own challenges, but at least you are out interacting with the world. In a car, everything just goes by.

And I get so frustrated with the Australian tendency to rely entirely on marginal pricing. I was a member of a similar car share in DC, and I paid something like $70 a month for the first 8 hours of driving, with a $9 per hour charge afterwards (at the very end of my time, they introduced a per mile charge, but only after some initial included mileage). Here, I pay a $15 membership fee, then $6.60 (I think) per hour plus $0.35 per kilometer. Now, I spend less per month here, so it isn't that it is too expensive, but there is no travel included in the sunk cost. I liked the scheme in DC because it encouraged me to drive 8 hours a month--enough to do something fun or out of the usual on top of my heavy grocery shopping run. Here, every single kilometer gets weighed against whether it is really worth it--not a great mind set for exploring a new city! It makes me too risk averse.

It is the same with phones here, and maybe some other pricing. It makes me miss the US's ability to make you feel good about spending too much money!

New Aussie slang

Just encountered the word "Seppo": it is a rhyming slang (a tradition that carried over from the cockney) term for an American. Basically, "septic tank" rhymes with "Yank", and of course, the Australian abbreviation for everything is the first syllable plus o....

Not sure it is a favorite, but worth knowing and understanding....

Friday, April 11, 2008

Barefoot lawn bowling

I've been delinquent in my postings--sorry!

Last Sunday I had a lovely afternoon with work friends at the Clovelly Bowling Club, playing Aussie-style lawn bowling. How to describe?

First, the scene: the club is on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean (between Bondi and Coogee Beaches). It was a gorgeous day: sunny and windy with beautiful air and light making the well-groomed lawns a beautiful sight. And yes, most of us were barefoot.

The game is sort of like the Italian Bocce--there is a small white ball that is tossed out, and the goal is to get the larger, black balls as close as possible to the white ball. Only, unlike Bocce, the balls are not spherical and are unevenly weighted, causing them to wobble and curve as they roll. None of us had any experience playing, so we had fun being goofy and clueless about where our balls would end up.

Each round is scored by counting the number of balls that the team with the closest ball to the white one have within the radius created by the closest ball of the losing team. My team was winning handily until we stopped for a "barbie," after which the other team caught up and ended up ahead as the light faded.

I then topped of the day with a walk along the water to Coogee and a freezing wait for the darn bus home.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Time change update

The various seasons are doing their shifting, and now we are in the northern summer/southern winter equilibrium. The window of our overlapping waking hours is shrinking some, though there are now intriguing possibilities of you calling me in your early morning hours (east coasters, at least)....

To summarize:

East coast US:
Your 7 pm is my 9 am; your 10 pm is my noon.
Your 8 am is my 10 pm.

West coast US/Vancouver:
Your 4 pm is my 9 am; your 10 pm is my 3 pm.
We won't be talking in your mornings....