Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Almost Home

4 hour layover in the Munich airport. So close, yet so long to wait. This has been a marathon trip back.
In all, it will be 6 flights and 42 hours. I kid you not.
The dive boat left us on Lizard Island.

(1)Lizard Island to Cairns: 45 minutes (but this was in a tiny plane flying low over the reef, so pretty cool)
3 hours in Cairns
(2)Cairns to Brisbane: 2 hours
3 hours in Brisbane
(3)Brisbane to Singapore: 7 hours
1 hour (stayed on plane) in Singapore
(4)Singapore to Dubai: 7 hours
3 hours in Dubai
(5)Dubai to Munich: 7 hours
5 hours in Munich.
(6)Munich to Dresden: 1 hour

And something's wrong with my ear. Having a cold + 4 days diving + 42 hours flying and maybe that's not so surprising.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Scars and stuff

Today I was killing time here waiting and looking through the few blogs/websites I have linked to here and the first two I clicked I came across these: (reproduced without permission)

What are people doing to themselves?

So I thought I would post my own gross-out picture I took a few weeks ago but didn't want to put up:

several hours of ultimate frisbee and not the best shoes.


Well, I've left Melbourne. {sigh} Earlier than I would have liked, especially since I was basically sick the whole time. Yesterday the sun came out and I spent the afternoon in the impressive royal botanic gardens which was really relaxing. And now I have 7 hours in Cairns before I get on the boat. Still a bit sick. I had to sign a form saying I wasn't congested for the diving. But there's no way I was gonna let them kick me off that boat or something. I figure I managed the plane flight so I'm good to go. Anyway, I'll know when I'm in the water if I can equalize or not.
At least it's somewhat warm here. But currently overcast.
On the bus ride to town I talked to an Australian girl who spent a year at the University of Michigan, was at UVA for a bit as well, and was just in Melbourne with a friend who is in school in Dresden like across the street from me. small world.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Melbourne Rocks.

This is a cool city. I could totally live here. As I told Colby, my impression is of a bustling downtown like NYC, but smaller and fresher, then outside of that it's like eternal South Congress (Austin) or brooklyn or something, then to the south side toward the ocean reminds me of these little southern cal beach towns.
And it's really not that expensive at all.

Tomorrow flying all the way Cairns for diving. I'm still sick. But it's getting better. First dive should be about 36 hours from now, hopefully sinuses are cleared and happy by then.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunshine Coast

Well the conference is over, and now I begin my 'real' vacation. Unfortunately I seem to be getting sick. Bad sore throat. I have five days for this to clear up before the diving. Can't dive with a cold. I'm flying to Melbourne today. And then up to Cairns on the 25th/26th.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Gone Down Under

Heading off for Australia tonight. 4 days conference. 4 days whatever. 4 days diving way out there. Not super long, but the diving should be amazing. (4 night Fly Dive-Coral Sea)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Trailer Park Boys

I'm so addicted to this show. Jeff and Kate introduced me to this, then I borrowed the Season 1 and 2 DVD, and it is so damn funny. I just found out it's been around since 2001 and there's at least 5 seasons and a movie. woo hoo! It's a Canadian show about the daily happenings of a trailer park community, focusing on 2 guys that keep coming in and out of jail and are always plotting how they are going to turn their lives around. I would highly recommend checking this out.
Just the beginning

I'd say we're going to be hearing a lot more guys talking like this, as this war drags on, and already brainwashed kids go absolutely nuts on their 3rd and 4th tours.

Lopezromo, who was not part of the squad on its late-night mission, said he saw nothing wrong with what Thomas did.

"I don't see it as an execution, sir," he told the judge, according to the newspaper. "I see it as killing the enemy."

He said Marines consider all Iraqi men part of the insurgency.

The comparisons to vietnam will probably start growing too.....

Lopezromo said a procedure called "dead-checking" was routine. If Marines entered a house where a man was wounded, instead of checking to see whether he needed medical aid, they shot him to make sure he was dead, he testified.

"If somebody is worth shooting once, they're worth shooting twice," he said.

Summer picnic

Whenever Abi mentions something about "food" or "eating" or "snacks" or anything, you know it's going to be a treat. Not only to eat but to look at. Sometimes she documents her creations on her shared blog, but usually not. But it's always worthy. 100% of the time. A little while ago a bunch of Abi's physicist friends had a little picnic in Alaunpark near where we live. I shoulda known what to expect being invited by Abi, even if it was just a very casual last-minute suggestion. I brought some wine. See here a sampling of the food. Yes that is a duck there. Here is a picture of Abi and Chris. They kind of match the food they make. This is real picture, not from some J Crew catalog or something.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Alex's Balcony-Garden

Another post today - because I should be writing up my 2nd year fellowship report.

Strawberries, Tomatoes, Green Beans. None of which would have survived my trips abroad with out the help of Nate, who's been watering them when I'm away.
God, this is disturbing

Really unbelievable. I guess you have to accept a little bit of this sort of thing in Washington with any administration, but this is absolutely crazy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I'm finally getting around to posting on my short trip to Finland. Well, except for the disturbing flights back. I was there to attend a conference in Naantali. Which is just a 30 min ride from Turku. Which is just a 30 min commuter flight from Helsinki. In other words, the middle of nowhere. Although apparently the spa we were at is rated as the best in Finland. This was a conference on "Chromosome Segregation and Aneuploidy" Or in other words how cells and their DNA divide. So right up my alley. And it was actually a very nice conference. Very small - less than 150 people there. But there were a lot of good people there that do good science, so it provided an opportunity to interact with people not always afforded by the larger conferences. I also gave a talk about my work - my first talk as a postdoc - and it went pretty well, I had many positive responses and interest afterwards.
I met some nice people and made some new friends. I spent a lot of my free time hanging out with the two beautiful women you see here - Megan and Kristin. Megan's from Sydney and Kristin is in Boulder, Colorado but originally from Fort Worth, Texas. So we had somethings to talk about. Oh, and she was an A&M grad. It was nice to see an A&M grad doing well, I think that school may be up and coming, but I wouldn't send my kids there. Anyway, Kristin was all but ready to talk shit about football when I told her I was from Austin and a UT fan.

I have never been that far north before. And this happened to be during the week of the longest days of summer. So it never actually got dark at night, although the sun did set. But it was strange. The first night after dinner we went for a stroll down to the harbor and got some ice cream. As I was sitting on a bench in the sun a man stumbled over to the bench next to me, sat down, and puked all over himself. Which was extremely strange until I remembered that is was past 10pm already and that the Fins aren't exactly known for NOT drinking. On the left is a picture I took from about the same time and place.

On the third or fourth night we took a boat trip to an island for a BBQ. As we were cruising along we started joking about this tiny island we saw as if they were going to take us there. Well, it turned out they did take us there. On this tiny little island we unloaded the crowd and sat down to a nice BBQ meal. (although I have to say the meat wasn't all that impressive. And by that time I think everybody was sick of salmon since it had been served for every meal. But it was some good-ass salmon.)

I think one of the things I will remember most about Finland is the awful awful licorice there. It is everywhere. And the Fins LOVE it. I found out why it is so foul. They add AMMONIUM CHLORIDE to their licorice. Yes, you heard me.
Here is a blurb from Wikipedia on what ammonium chloride is good for:

It is sold in blocks at hardware stores for use in cleaning the tip of a soldering iron and can also be included in solder as flux.

Other uses include a feed supplement for cattle, in hair shampoo, in textile printing, in the glue that bonds plywood, as an ingredient in nutritive media for yeast, in cleaning products, and as cough medicine. Its expectorant action is caused by irritative action on the bronchial mucosa. This causes the production of excess respiratory tract fluid which presumably is easier to cough up. It is the active ingredient in many antiperspirants, usually aerosols. It is also used in an oral acid loading test to diagnose distal renal tubular acidosis.

Why WOULDN'T you add this to your candy?!? Mmmmmm-mmmmmm. Nothing like a wretchedly spicy-salty sting to kick it up a notch. We were even conned into taking a shot of a vodka flavored with this stuff. worst. drink. EVAR. Like drinking sewage. But appraently the Fins love it so much it was actually banned for a while because kids were drinking it like candy! Unbelievable.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

For Kat.

Wiggle like a worm.