Archive for the 'Sydney' Category

“Surf’s up at Coogee … for cars”

Monday, May 4th, 2009

So while I was curled up at home with our neighbour’s cat listening to a thunderstorm on Saturday night, this apparently is what was going on down the road at Coogee:

Coogee flood

And yes, that was the real title of the article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Easter Awesomeness

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Hello everyone! So I’ve been madly, insanely busy over the past month or so. Supervising students, training students, fixing the labs, organizing lectures, designing and building tethers for space elevators, you know, the usual antics. So I was very, very, very happy last week when the labs closed for maintenance, and then we had the Easter 4-day long weekend on top of that. Sweeeeeet!

So Friday I went outdoor bouldering with Yael and Andy and Simon and Pako and Mauro and a couple of guys named James. It was fun, and gorgeous, and we climbed a bit, and hung out a lot in a forest, and it was awesome.

Pako and Maura and Andy

Saturday we hosted a Death By Chocolate party. I skipped out for a bit to go to the Easter Vigil, like a good Catholic (Grandma would be proud), and then came back to an Easter Egg Hunt, followed by UNO.

Sunday, slept in, went to the beach for a picnic with Pako and Mauro. Went swimming, it was glorious.

Monday it rained all day. Complete torrential downpour. It was awesome. I slept in, hung out in my pajamas all day, did some writing. Craig woke up at about 6pm, and I challenged him to Risk 2210. He annihilated me. It was a good day.

Thanks for the chocolate Mom and Dad!!!


Oh, yes, and I taught lots of people here how to knit. Here’s Yael knitting in the forest:

Yael knitting in a forest


Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

I think most of you know this already, but for those of you who don’t, I was hired late last year as a “Full-Time Academic” here at UNSW, and have switched to part-time student status on my PhD.

What does this mean? That I am finished 3 years of my PhD, and nearing completion (if I ever sit down to write…), I am the course co-ordinator for the 2nd Year Project course and the 4th Year Thesis, I was assistant lecturer for Applied Photovoltaics, and got the 8 tutors in the course sorted, creating new problem sets and such, then was re-shuffled over to ENGG1000. For the project courses, I’m co-ordinating, but also supervising 3 fourth year theses. And I’m trying to write papers, and my thesis, and train new students in the lab… sigh. So yeah, sorry for not many updates lately. I have still found time to play soccer, however, and spent most of today bludging (my first whole day to myself in a long time, so I spent it cleaning and bludging).

Solar car is going to be really cool. I’m just supervising, and don’t want to get too involved because it tends to suck people into a dark abyss of work, but it will still be really cool. Boeing is a major sponsor of the UNSW solar car team, and the team does most of their composite work out at Boeing. We’re going there on Thursday for our safety induction, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how composite parts are made in industry. They’re hella concerned with OH&S at UNSW, but Boeing is even more so, which saves me the trouble of running after students trying to make them wear steel toed boots and safety goggles. Aerospace is cool.

Speaking of aerospace, apparently the 16 finalists in the CSA’s hunt for new astronauts have been selected. Only one of the 16 is female. One is a friend of Melissa Battler’s from the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station thingy. But that’s as close as I get to knowing any one of the final 16. Next time, next time. I’ll have a PhD by then, and heaps more experience. I think all the one’s selected are in their 30’s anyway. Maybe 28 is just a bit too young to have done everything they’re looking for. And I think I should get my pilot’s license too, or rescue diving, or something cool like that. Maybe gliders. Yael went gliding on the weekend, and it reminded me of the UW glider team. Not that I’d glide in any of the gliders we made, but it would be fun soaring like that. Maybe I’ll build an ultralight when I move back to Canada. Backyard project. If I have a backyard. If I don’t, maybe Joe and Benita want to build an ultralight in their backyard. I think they have one :)

Anything else exciting? The weather is good. It’s been glorious ever since Mary came to visit. Loving it.

Oh, the upgrade. In addition to my job being upgraded, I also got an office upgrade. I was in G12C, a noisy, cramped office into which they crammed about 15 grad students. It was just across from the Ground Floor Labs, and I had a high-traffic aisle desk with the air-con blowing directly down on me. I used to have AC wars with one of the other office occupants. Now I’m on the 4th floor, my own office, 2 desks, window view, soon to have my name on the door. I’m also the official Space Manager and Equipment Owner of all of the Silicon Wafer labs at the Centre, minus the one high efficiency lab. Whoa! I have to sign the forms that give people access to the labs. It’s totally weird. I think they really want to keep me, but so far they’ve only succeeded in getting me to stay until (probably) December, and that’s only on account of the student projects I’m supervising. Otherwise I would have been home by the end of July. I’ll still come to visit sometime this summer though.

No word from UW yet. I’ll let you know if I do though. But even if I do hear back, I’m afraid I’ll have to try and defer until December.

Mary’s Visit to Oz

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

So I know I’ve been pretty quiet lately. Sorry. I’ve been ridiculously busy. In addition to nearly being done my experimental work, working on a paper, working on my thesis, and being hired as a full time academic in charge of 2 courses and assisting with 2 others, I had my sister Mary visiting for the past 2 weeks. Here are some highlights, courtesy of photos that other people took and that Mary has put on Facebook:

Day 3: Soundwave

Billy Talent

Day 5: Bedouin Soundclash @ the Annandale
Bedouin Soundclash

Day 6: Butterbox Canyon

Mary Canyoning

Day 9-11: Cairns

Best bird ever


Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Yeah, I don’t know why the photo of Rob and Tara keeps mucking up in that previous post. I’ve tried fixing it many times, decreased the file size, done things to the html of the link. It hates me.


Saturday, January 10th, 2009

Just a quick one - there is lots of catching up to do on this blog, but for now here are the 2 biggest events: Oliver and Beun’s wedding in Australia, and Rob and Tara’s wedding in Canada. I won’t tell you which photo is from which wedding though. I think it’s clear.

Oliver and Beun

Rob and Tara

And now for a bit of everything else, starting with Soccer!

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

So I was away for 5 weeks, back for a week, then went of to Melbourne for a week of soccer. All-Australia UniGames, a week of parties and soccer. We didn’t do so well as last year, finishing only in 5th place. Sigh. But it was at least a lot of fun once again.

UniGames 08 team

UniGames Par-tay!

EUPVSEC’08 World Tour Stop #13 & Final Destination: Taipei (x2)

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Seeing as I’m about to come to Canada very, very shortly I think I should finish writing about my last trip, plus bring people up to speed on everything else that happened this term (which there was an awful lot of).

On our first trip through Taipei we all stayed with Stanley and his family. Had our teeth cleaned. Exciting times, as you recall. I was willing to stay in a hostel for my two nights in Taipei en route to Sydney, but Stanley’s family insisted that I stay with them again, even though Stanley wasn’t there this time, and to be polite I agreed. What a wonderful decision!

I had the fun of an adventure on my own by way of getting myself from the airport to their metro stop by public transit. Amazingly, I was exactly on time and as I came up the subway escalator with all my stuff, there was Stan’s dad waiting for me at the entrance. Such a relief! It was ridiculously hot again, and wonderful to get back to their apartment, get some air con, a shower, a nap, clean clothes - heaven! And I had the apartment entirely to myself this time. In the evening Stan’s parents took me to the mountains, and we walked through the dusk and ate fresh fruit that they’d brought with us. We went to an old Chinese market street and bought sweets that I could take back to Sydney (they insisted on purchasing everything for me too, which made me extremely reluctant to get anything at all). Then we went out for a massive Japanese banquet at this beautiful authentic Japanese restaurant overlooking a river.

The next day was just as good. They took me outside the city to the mountains to visit some of their relatives. They have a house up on a mountain and actually own the whole mountain. We picked flowers, and hiked a bit, and ate and ate and ate. Then we sat around and sang karaoke most of the afternoon. The whole day was amazing. Watched the sunset in the mountains.

When I had to leave, Stan’s parents drove me right to the airport. I had such an amazing time with them I simply do not know how I can ever thank them. I have very fond memories of Taipei now. Such friendly, generous, polite people everywhere we went. I love the world.

EUPVSEC’08 World Tour Stop #12: Freiberg (x2)

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

After Crete, my flights didn’t quite work out the way I wanted them to, so I got 2 more nights in Germany. I spent my extra day back in Freiberg at the Fraunhofer. This time I crashed with Shelly and Emily, and Emily once again took me in to the Fraunhofer with her. The institute was having a grand opening for it’s module testing research facilities this time, so I saw some experiments in action. The most impressive was the hail-resistance testing set up. They make spherical, 2cm dia. ice balls, and shoot them out of a ice cube gun at a solar panel. We wore eye goggles. It was awesome.

Later I met with Daniel Kray, a researcher in the laser doping area who came to Sydney in August (remember his awesome kids?). He gave me another, much more thorough tour of the labs. He has access to a lot more stuff, and is more senior then Emily, so I actually got to go in everywhere as opposed to just look in the windows. And most impressively, he took me in to the laser doping lab, so that I could see it in action. It’s quite different to the way we do it at UNSW, and personally I think our way of doing it is easier, but whatever. It’s all research.

That night I went over to Daniel’s for dinner. We cooked, his two little girls played with us, and after they went to bed we went for a walk. He lives in this tiny German village surrounded by all these vineyards. We ate grapes, walked up to an old, old church at the top of some hill, and then I caught the bus back to Emily and Shelly’s. Wished them good bye and thanked them, Karo and Werner dropped me off at the train station, and I caught the midnight train to the Frankfurt airport.

An all-nighter on trains, then at the airport, trying to catch cat-naps on benches. I thought my flight was at 9, but it was actually later, so I probably could have just gone in the morning, but oh well. I caught the plane to Taiwan, for 2 more nights there before my return to Sydney.

EUPVSEC’08 World Tour Stop #11: Crete

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Vacation time!

Crete town from boat


Crete Sunset