Palo Alto!

January 24th, 2010

Hey all,

So this is where I live now:
Palo Alto Bridge

Pretty cool, eh?

Some other cool pics from the stuff we saw today:

Water bird

Welcome to America

Welcome to America :)

Merry Christmas!

December 17th, 2009

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

My dad’s Christmas decorations at the office :)

Random Update

November 19th, 2009

So I have one update that’s coming that’ll have awesome pictures - the annual Sculptures by the Sea walk. But I haven’t downloaded the photos yet. So this update will have no pictures.

So I got a job in California! Yaaay!

But I have to leave Australia. Boooo.

But it’s awesome an it’ll be closer to home! Yaaaaay!

Then I got ACL surgery done on Tuesday. Boo? Yay? I don’t know. In the long run, this is good. Right now, just kinda painful and annoying.

So now, working with students, trying to finish off my experiments and my PhD in general. Trying to write papers. Write my thesis. Still finishing off the term.

Dad wanted me to post some links, so here’s some random stuff:

Making fun of New Zealand accents

I Threw it on the Ground

That’s all I got for now.

Sometimes I miss being a primary school teacher

November 9th, 2009

Jan’s parents are primary school teachers. The students were asked to write the properties of the sun.

“It’s not soluble in water”

apparently it’s framed on their fridge.

World Solar Challenge 2009

November 1st, 2009

So for 2nd year project, I thought it would be a good, easy idea to supervise a bunch of students working on the solar car. I don’t have to create a project from scratch, plus they’re pretty much self-supervised, so good idea. Next good outcome was that I felt responsible for them, and went along on the race this past week. The down-side was that the whole project was massively behind schedule, so I really was terrified that someone would be seriously injured/killed sometime over the past few weeks. There were some close calls on the way up to Darwin that I’m not going to terrify you with the details of, but in the end they made it up to Darwin and the start of the race. Yael, Andy and I flew up there to watch the scrutineering, time qualifiers, and check out Litchfield National Park.

Yael and Andy hadn’t been to Uluru yet, so we decided to leave the day before the race started and get out there ahead of the team, then meet up with them again some time after Alice Springs. I kinda wanted to stay with the team in case something happened, but in retrospect it’s really good that Yael and Andy dragged me away, because my stress levels were skyrocketing - there were a few tears the day I was leaving, trying to get the academic supervisor to make them go slow at the start and take it easy on the race. If I’d been there I’d probably just have stressed everyone out further.

The day we left was the start of the electric/hybrid vehicle race, which was also running at the same time as the solar car race. The most impressive of the cars, the Tesla, we caught up with somewhere around Katherine:


Isn’t it beautiful? And yes, that’s a 3-phase generator that was trailered along after it to power it along the race.

One of our first stops on the trip was the Devil’s Marbles. Andy, Yael, and Nic (ex-solar car, I think, and along for the trip) climbed up a bunch of the marbles:

The Devil's Marbles

The next stop was impressive. We got to Uluru before sunset, set up camp, went for a swim, walked around, watched the sunset on Uluru. The next day we saw the sunrise on Uluru, did the Valley of the Winds walk at Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) (~6.5k), then drove to King’s Canyon and did the rim walk (~6k). And everything is quite spread out, so there was quite a bit of driving involved in all that as well.


King's Canyon

Sunrise on the Outback

We then stopped off in Tattooine, where we took a look at the Millenium Falcon:

Millenium Falcon

When we got back to the Stuart Highway, we found out we were about an hour behind Sunswift (UNSW solar car team). So we took our time, checked out the people they’d just passed (Principia and MIT, turned out), and then went on ahead of them to leave them some messages of love and encouragement for the next day:

We *heart* solar

We stuck with the team for the full 5th and final day of the race:


Sunswift crossed the finish line that evening: 4th place over-all in Challenge class, and the first car running silicon solar cells to cross the finish line. Extremely well done for a student-run team, and the best UNSW has ever done at the World Solar Challenge since the team began. A combination of the students managing to simply keep the car on the road without any major mechanical or electrical failures for the full 3000+ km (which they couldn’t manage on the way up), and some of the serious competition putting themselves out of the running on the first day - Twente had a tire blow-out and rolled their car, Aurora had a blow-out and spun in 360’s into the on-coming traffic lane (luckily there was no traffic) then destroyed their front suspension when they went off then back on to the highway, and Unicore or Omnicore, the Belgians, was caught by a gust of wind when trying to pass the Japanese team, was blown off the road, slightly air-born, and their array ended up in a tree somehow. No driver injuries. Absolutely terrifying. But our kids finished, and they spent the rest of the time celebrating a very well-earned finish:

At the finish

Sunswift in Adelaide

Fountain at the ceremonial finish


October 19th, 2009

The excitement of last week was precipitated by Brett and I.

F3 had run out of boron liquid source, so I decided we could switch it for F12’s source since that furnace has been down for years. We very carefully carried the F12 source and cooler over to F3. Brett lifted out the empty source while I lifted out the full source and we swapped the coolers they were in. As I put the fragile, quartz container into the cooler, I noticed a lot of clear liquid coming up the sides of the cooler, and when I had full placed it and looked at my gloves, they were wet. Then I saw some drops on the floor, and I turned to Brett and said: “Um, we have to evacuate the lab now”.

So we did.

When LDOT heard there was a potential BBr3 spill, they also closed the labs below the ground floor labs, put on full sperm suits complete with oxygen tanks and everything, and it took them about 1.5 hours to even prepare to go in.

After about an hour of tests, it was determined that it was just water that had condensed on the outside of the quartz containers. But we were all safe! And we can still do boron diffusions. Yay!

Wednesday I’m off for the World Solar Challenge with Yael and Andy. I supervised a bunch of second year students who worked on the car for their second year design project, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Also going to hit Kakadu National Park, Uluru, the Olga’s, King’s Canyon, and a few other notable places across the outback of Australia along the way. Expect some good pictures soon!

Welcome Baby Deighan!!!

October 8th, 2009

Rob and Tara have a baby!!!!!! Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry it’s been so long since I had an update. Here goes:

  • I came to Canada back in Aug-Sept to visit all my lovely Canadian friends and family. It was great.
  • I had a job interview in San Fran while visiting Paul and Oleg there
  • Went to visit Kristy, Marty, Katelyn, and Dan Manicom in Calgary
  • Went to visit Sue, Brock and Laura in BC
  • Came back, did some teaching
  • Went to UniGames - won Bronze! Was named to the Green & Gold team! aaaaaand tore my ACL :(

Upcoming events:

  • Yael and Andy and I are accompanying the UNSW team on the World Solar Challenge from October 21st - 31st (racing a solar car from Darwin to Adelaide). I’m stressing at the moment because I have been supervising some second year students working on the car, and now I don’t want them to crash and die.
  • Exams are coming up in a couple weeks. Hopefully my class does well!
  • Still working on the PhD
  • ACL surgery in early November most likely. Unofficial MRI results came it today. Should make it all official tomorrow and book in surgery.

That is all for now. The chickens are good :)


August 9th, 2009

21st birthdays are a big deal in Australia. I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited to four of them since I’ve been here, and they’ve all been very different and fun.

The first 21st I was ever invited to was Het’s. All her family was there, and friends from high school, elementary school, uni, soccer, and everything else. There were food and drinks at a fancy place in the City, a slide show with photos from Het’s life, and people gave speeches. I teared up at times - some of the stories were really heart-felt and touching. It’s a celebration of the person’s life. There were gifts, and then dancing the night away.

The second 21st I went to was Kate’s. I was invited, along with a couple of the other soccer girls, to a bbq and chilled-out party with Kate and her family at her family’s house. Her mom cooked up a storm, and some of her friends had put together a “Kate Questionnaire” to get people’s funny stories and ideas about Kate. It was laid back, and highly enjoyable, particularly as I happened to be sick that night and I was free to cuddle my box of tissues and a 2L bottle of orange juice and still celebrate Kate.

The third and fourth 21sts were this past weekend - Shonnie of Friday night, then Sam on Saturday night. Shonnie again had all her family and friends from all her walks of life there. We were at a schmancy pants pizza bar in the Cross, with champagne and wine all night, there were gifts and speeches from all. The soccer girls all chipped in and bought her a necklace from Tiffany’s and lingerie (as you do, apparently). Her little bro told some awesome stories about her, as did Gigi and Al on behalf of soccer, and some of her high school friends did as well. Later in the night the party hit the nightlife in the Cross.

Sam’s was last night and I think this one was my favourite of the lot. It doubled as a farewell party for her, as she’s off to spend the next year in Indo. There was no family, only friends, and mostly just the soccer girls. We went for Japanese, then karaoke, and then to the upper level of some random mall where they had all sorts of Asian ‘claw’ games and photo booths - the ones where you can add little pink hearts and sparkles to the photos, or make it look like you and your friends are princesses on swings surrounded by pink flowers. Kate and Gigi did an awesome and shocking serenade to Sam at karaoke, Al won some mismatched puffy animal slippers for Sam at the claw game, and Shen luckily knows Japanese so could decipher all the instructions within the time-limits of the photo booth. It was an awesomely fun night.


July 12th, 2009

We went to Taronga Zoo yesterday, and it was a bit cool and overcast = awesome for active animals. Especially the lions, which are generally cool to look at but don’t actually do much. Well, these ones were different:

Watching us

About to pounce

Just after pouncing

The meerkats were awesome too:

Meerkats chillin

For the rest of the animals, which were all quite good, check out this link.

EUGs 2009

July 9th, 2009

Our goal was to win gold at the East Coast UniGames this year, but we wound up with silver, which is still acceptable.

Silver Medalists

It was in Bathurst, and it was bloody cold. Even by Canadian standards. You try running around in shorts and a t-shirt when it’s -2°C outside! Brrrrrrr!