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Martha and Susan’s Excellent Adventures

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!

December 22nd, 2010

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My dad’s office decorations rock once again:

CharlieBrownTree

Meaning

December 21st, 2010

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So last night there was a full lunar eclipse of the full moon on the winter solstice for the first time since AD 1638, which must mean something, right? I was quite excited heading home from work last night, because there was no rain and the sky was relatively clear. I planned to wake up at 4am or so to see it.

Then I slept through it, and didn’t remember until walking out to meet my lift in to work at 6:25am, when the moon was shining down on me looking normal again. D’oh! That must mean something too. It’s funny though, NASA says the peak of the eclipse would have been only 10min before I went out. Funny that it wasn’t still partially red.

Here’s a photo from the CBC at any rate:

LunarEclipse

Preparing for home

December 19th, 2010

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My packing is nearly complete…

Christmas Packing

Anna!

December 15th, 2010

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My friend Anna came to visit me here in San Francisco this past weekend! More UNSW-related good times! I took her and my friend Paul (from UW) up to Yosemite for the weekend:

pv

waterfall_mars

group

Stop-over

December 15th, 2010

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After the big wedding, Yael & I stopped over in Singapore to meet up with all the UNSW alumni there. We had a tour of the REC production plant, SERIS, and then had a night on the town courtesy of SERIS. Good times.

LaviKen Wedding: Part 1

December 14th, 2010

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I was recently in Surabaya, Indonesia, for the wedding of my friends Ken & Lavinia. Andy & Yael also flew up from Australia, so we had a proper little reunion going on. The wedding was a mix of Indonesian and Western traditions, and was the most massive wedding I’ve ever seen. Check out Boyz II Men:

BoyzIIMen

Lavinia was gorgeous, there were also ice sculptures, Indonesian dancers, dry ice and light show, obscene amounts of roses, amazing food, and of course bagpipes:

LaviKenSimon

Ice

bagpipes

bedtime

Half-time show at Stanford

December 14th, 2010

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So Dan & I went to a Stanford football game on the Thanksgiving weekend. Seemed like the thing to do. The game was a bit boring, Stanford blew away the competition, but they half-time show was the most bizarre one I’d ever seen. It was a choreographed story about dinosaurs, and then how they went extinct after a big meteor hit the Earth. In this photo, you will see that a meteor has just run across the field. The marching band and the stegosaurus have died as a result.

Stanford_half_time

Montreal

December 14th, 2010

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So although this is “West Coast Adventures”, I kinda travel around a lot. A few weeks back I went to Montreal to visit Melissa Bacon from UNSW soccer, and Lucy was there for her birthday to see a Habs game.

Highlights: Lucy’s sheer excitement over the game - she could not get the smile off her face afterwards, and kept giggling to herself all night.
Mel and I went to the art gallery the next day, and saw Napoleon’s hat from his Russian campaign. Totally did not expect that. I highly recommend checking it out.

Dryden

And so it begins, again

November 3rd, 2010

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I’m not doing a very good job at keeping in touch with people via e-mail. At least not as good a job as I’d like. So in efforts to stay in touch with friends in Australia, and Canada, and everywhere else, I’m starting up the blog again. I’ll try and keep it somewhat up to date.

And the blog shall begin with a return to blue hair:

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Leaving Oz

March 17th, 2010

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Sorry it’s been a while getting this last chapter out. So I moved to Palo Alto in January. For 3 weeks I was here working and getting settled in and writing a paper on series resistance in PERC cells. Then I went back to Australia for 3 weeks to finish up my experimental work, finish the supervision of my summer student, tie up loose ends with teaching and such.

I finished all my experimental work. I didn’t get a terribly good efficiency for my solar cell. The 16% one I made last year still holds the record for me. But I did get a lot of awesome pictures, and a few decent experiments out of it. Ok, cool texture photo:

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I also had a lot of parties to attend :) One of the first was a farewell dinner & salsa party.

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The next weekend we went camping. It was epic getting up there. Evatt was driving Yael and I up in his old-school camper van. The rear windscreen was crumbling off. It was raining. We stopped for dinner, and the restaurant we were in flooded. Started driving through the torrential downpour. The bottom of every hill had turned into a pond. We passed about 5 cars that had stalled in the water, we sprayed water over them as we blew by. Made it fairly close to the camp ground by about 11pm, tried to find a motel, failed, parked at the end of a street near some beach access and camped on the side of the road. Turns out there were still fishermen about, so they passed us leaving the beach sometime after midnight, drinking and laughing. Then passed us again going back to the beach around 4am. Wasn’t a terribly wonderful sleep. Made it to the campground the next morning, crashed on the beach. The rest of the trip was fairly good and uneventful.

Anna took me out to see a musical on my last Wednesday in Australia. We’d gone to see Wicked together a few months ago, and had tried to do so in Melbourne, so we’ve bonded over musicals. It was interesting, this one. Called “Spring Awakening”. I won’t forget it, anyways :)

BOS was my shout on my last Friday of work. It was a good one. I shouted the first case, tonnes of people were there again, then I think Evatt shouted a case, then Mark had to go get a third case (good thing the bottle shop isn’t far…), then it carried on to the Reg. Oh, I’m missing UNSW!

Saturday was my last full day in Sydney, so a bunch of us got together and went kayaking in Manly. It was an incredible day! Perfect weather, perfect friends, absolutely beautiful! You couldn’t ask for a better day! Made it so hard to leave. There were tears starting when we had to say goodbye.

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When I got home, I had my last dinner in Mooramie house. Sarah, Andy, and Wolfgang came over to join Yael, Craig and I in an all-night LOTR marathon. We had been planning a marathon for a while, and it seemed a fitting thing to do on my last night. No wasting it with sleeping. Craig and Sarah made a tonne of LOTR food to go along with it as well. Their versions of Entwash, and lembas, and Craig made a Shelob cake (which I should find the picture of…).

In the morning, I finished packing, then Anna and Shonnie and Pat came by for breakfast. Anna and Shonnie had to head off to soccer then, and Pat took this photo of Yael and Craig and I outside Mooramie house just before we left for the airport:

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We stopped by DP on the way to the airport so that I could say bye to all the soccer ladies before their game. There were more tears. Andy and Craig and Yael waited with me at the airport until I really had to go through security and board the plane. We were all pretty burnt out, not having slept, and being rather sad. We sat around drinking Boosts and hanging out, then we went to security, and there were a lot more tears when Yael and I said bye. She’s my Australian sister now, those guys were my Aussie family, and it was soooo hard leaving! I think all the security people gave me an easy time going through due to all the tears.

And that’s it. I hope I can go back some day. I know that what’s ahead will be good to, but it’s never the same, and Australia was amazing.