Friday, December 28, 2007

The HULK has arrived

Well yesterday was a proud day for Aleisha and I as we have finally bought our first car. Owing to its obvious exceptional build quality, phenomenal power and its green colour we have decided to call it the HULK. It is a 2000 Hyundai excel with just under 85,000 km on the clock.

The official handover with Lisa and Leon (the previous owners)

The HULK in its new home

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fun with neutrons

Well I am off to neutron school this week, I can barely contain my excitement. Unfortunately as the new nuclear reactor was purchased from Argentina it has broken down and we will have to have neutron school without neutrons.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sculpture by the Sea

The other day Aleisha and I headed out to Bondi to check out the annual Sculptures by the Sea exhibition. As usual it was pretty good, although it was also pretty busy. Still any time not spent writing my thesis is always cherished.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

World Famous in Australia

A few weeks back the science based documentary program Catalyst interviewed my supervisor, Cameron Kepert, in our new lab for a program on the Hydrogen economy. They have now releases it online, so if you are interested in viewing it then check it out here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Camel Racing

With the recent outbreak of Equine Influenza the local racing club decided to run some Camel races to try to attract the crowds. It certainly worked as the place was packed with punters, possibly a little too packed. But it was a good laugh and everyone had a good time.
If you are wondering why the photos are of such poor quality it is because I was attempting to use my Dads old Canon AT-1 35mm film camera with some some Ilford XP-2 B&W film. Digital certainly does make life easier.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Long Weekend

I know there hasn't been a blog entry for a while but to be honest we haven't been up to anything interesting of late. So to make up for our lack of physical activity the long weekend was spent snorkelling, bush walking and doing some more snorkelling. All and all a very enjoyable weekend, although compared to thesis writing cutting my toe nails is exciting.

It took the combined effort of three PhD's to read the map.
On the way to Red Rock Cave, a site of some aboriginal paintings in the Blue Mts.

A Jacky lizard, although this is open to debate.

An Eastern Bearded Dragon, very much alive. This guy had everyone fooled with his playing dead routine.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Blood Moon

I think it is a sign that the chemistry gods are not happy with my PhD progress, back to thesis writing then.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

My Brother Comes to Town

As my brother had a conference in Melbourne he decided to pop into Sydney for a few days and catch up with us. After a visit to the relatives on Monday we headed out of Sydney to show Karl some of the sights. The first stop was our secret Platypus viewing location (located some where on the road to Canberra) which did not let us down, with a good number of Platypi being seen. After checking out a the local bakeries we headed to the Royal National Park via the coastal route and after a few "scenic" trips around Wollongong (I took a wrong turn) we arrived at the Royal just as the weather cleared.


The thought of another trip through Wollongong was too much to handle for Karl.

"I think I can see New Zealand"

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Tourist Trip to Newcastle

Aleisha, Marty and myself decided to take a trip to up to Newcastle to check out the new (and only) tourist attraction. We managed to get a great deal on a Toyota Prius hybrid rental car which made the trip a bit more interesting, but more on that in a future blog. It was quite an amazing site and I dont think it will be moved any time soon.

The Pasha Bulka

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tawny Frogmouth

Well after giving up all hope of ever spotting the elusive Tawny Frogmouth we managed to spot on roosting on the bloody Chemistry building of all places! I guess there are some benefits to coming to work on the weekend. We even managed to get some photos to prove it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

We finally have a date

I know you have all been waiting for this announcement so here it is, our wedding will be on the 9th of Feb 2008 in Sydney. The ceremony will be at the University of Sydney main quad and everyone who can be bothered coming is welcome. Since we wont be ranting on about God for hours we expect the ceremony to be nice and short. The people who bring the best gifts will then be invited to join us at a local eatery (yet to be formalised).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Seahorse Spectacular

Last Friday afternoon I gave up working on my PhD talk and headed out snorkeling with the lads. The aim was to spot some Seahorses and Iain had a good tipoff on a guaranteed location to see some. I decided to try my luck at underwater photography with a point and shoot film camera, as you can see from the images below I think I will stick to land based photography in the future.

A Leatherjacket that Paul and myself had to rescue from the shark net.
Can you spot the Seahorse?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

PhD Talk

Well with my PhD talk coming up in a weeks time I have been spending far too much time in front of my computer so there isn't much of interest to blog about. The most exciting thing I have done of late is create fancy looking images for my talk abstract, hopefully this will distract people from my inability to use the engrish language.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Car Park for Rent

As some of you know we use to rent out our car space to a guy who owned the hairdressers over the road. When he initially offered $100 per month we nearly fell over in shock, who would pay so much for a bloody car space? Well he stopped using the space so it has become available again and I figured I would try and rent it out. Much to my amazement there are numerous web sites where you can list your car space for rent or for sale. Our space has just been put up so if you want a cheap space only minutes walk from the University of Sydney the check it out here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Warrumbungle National Park

Aleisha and I decided to head away for the easter long weekend and in an attempt to escape the crowds we headed to Warrumbungle National Park. This time I got the hire car I wanted, the economical Hyundai Getz. While we may have suffered permanent spinal damage due to the "sporty" suspension it only used 6L of gas per 100 km and the gear box actually worked. Unfortunately we didnt manage to avoid the crowds but the place was still pretty nice and we got some nice walks in.

View of the famous Bread Knife

After a few failed attempts I managed to get a reasonable star trail photo using a 30 minute exposure.

The Getz, by far the smallest vehicle in the campsite.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The final countdown

Well it is official, I am on borrowed time. Three yeas of my PhD have passed me by and I am now on an extension which will last six months. Hopefully I will be able to get everything finished before the extension runs out.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk

Last weekend Aleisha, Marty (a collaborator from Monash university) and myself decided to join the ~200000 other people celebrating the 75th anniversary of Sydney harbour bridge by walking over it. The most enjoyable part of the event was the knowledge that thousands of motorists were unable to drive over the bridge in their useless Australian made cars for a day. Other than annoying motorists it was an excellent opportunity to do some photography of a popular land mark from an angle that you can not normally get.

Due to popular demand a photo of Aleisha and I (apparently this blog has too much ranting from me and not enough photos of Aleisha and I. Me rant, never)


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What does 1.5 million dollars buy you?

Well after much hype and speculation we have finally moved into our new lab, well into the new office at least. While the air conditioning seems to be permanently stuck on 16 C and the network is only partially functional everything else is looking pretty good. No doubt the lab will turn into a dumping ground as soon as we can use it so I figured I would put up a few photos while it still looks new.

One of the coolest features are two temperature/humnidity controlled crystal growing rooms. They are also designed to minimise vibrations, lets hope this will mean that I will be able to grow some single crystals for once.

At the back of the lab we have a instrument room, unfortunately we dont have any instruments yet. Depending on how my PhD writing goes I may start living in there.

In our old lab we had one partially functional fume hood, in this lab we have ten.

Our office is located at the front of the lab and will seat ~25 people in total.

I managed to score a fancy desk with a view in the quiet part of the office. I think my boss was hoping that I would write up quicker if I had no distractions!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Tasmania – Part IIII

Well it is time for the final instalment of my Tasmania journey. After leaving the Walls I decided to spend a couple of days exploring the Northern part of Tasmania. I stayed in a town call Sheffield which has become famous for its murals! The town was quite nice as it had a pub with cheap accommodation and a bakery with good danishes. I spent a day in the tourist trap call the Cradle Mountain National Park doing some hikes and while the place was nice it was just swarming with American tourists. That night I went to check out a penguin colony and got chatting to a park ranger who gave me a tip-off for an excellent place to spot Wombats. Trusting the ranger, the next evening I headed to Narawntapu National Park. Almost as soon as I got out of the car I was greeted by a bunch of Pademelons and when the sun started to set I finally saw a Wombat, actually I saw about a dozen in the end.

Cradle Mountain National Park

I hope you all like this photo as the rocks were bloody sharp!

Cradle Mountain

A Pademelon


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Another Australian Story

I think people often believe that Aleisha and I have issues with Australian views because we are New Zealanders. The truth is we have issues with Australian views because they are bloody retarded. Today yet another example of the often narrow minded view of many Australians was shown in a SMH article that you can read here.
A lot of this clearing is being done in outback NSW to make way for farmland, of course Australia is in the middle of a drought so all the farmers manage to do is remove any trace of top soil that they have left. I seriously hope that one day Australians will realise that not every resource needs to be exploited in the shortest time possible.
I wouldnt normally be so forthright with my views (as I'm sure you all know) but my horoscope said that I was tired of pussyfooting around, and that I should go right to the heart of the issue. We all know that only a fool would ignore their horoscope.

Tasmania – Part II

After coming to grips with the unique features of the Holden Commodore I made my way to the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. Even though I had managed to skip out of the conference early I still arrived at the park car cark a little late, 4pm actually. Lucky enough for me it got dark quite late in Tasmania, but it still meant that the first day of hiking was going to be a little rushed as I had ~7km to do. The great thing about this national park is that there are no roads in it, or even to it for that matter. You need to hike for an hour or so to get into the park which I hoped would keep the tourist numbers down, which in the end it did. After a cruel climb I reached that start of the valley and was rewarded with some spectacular views. The clouds started to turn ominously black and with the setting sun created some amazing light for photography. But with the apparent impending doom of a storm and ever reducing light I had to tear myself away from taking photos and make a dash for the campsite.
The next day was overcast, cold and drizzly, not exactly great weather for tramping or photography. I headed off into the “Walls” and then climbed Mt Jerusalem before returning to camp that afternoon.

The West Wall

Camp and a Bennetts wallaby

Me on top of Mt Jerusalem

The West Wall from Mt Jerusalem

Macro Landscape

Friday, February 23, 2007

Simons Holden Commodore Review

The Holden Commodore Executive (aka the shitbox)

When I went to pick up my ultra fuel efficient Hyundai Getz from Avis in Hobart I was informed that I had been "upgraded" to a Holden Commodore Executive. I figured I had been Holden bashing for quite a few years and maybe this would be a good chance to really test the great Australian car. In the end I put the car through 1400km of rough Tasmanian roads so I think that my review is sound. So here goes...
I headed north from Hobart to the Walls of Jerusalem (about 5 hrs drive) and was quite impressed by its handling of straight flat roads at 110 km/h. However, at the first corner things began to change. As it is an automatic there is absolutely no engine braking so I spent the whole trip riding the brakes as the bloody thing wouldn’t slow down when you take your foot off the accelerator. The problem was compounded by the fact that the gear box had, what was possibly the slowest gear shift possible. You would put your foot down, nothing happens, push it further and still nothing, push the bloody thing through the floor and finally it drops 3 gears, loses traction and the rear wheels start spinning. This became a real problem when I attempted a quick 3-point turn on a tight road. The change between drive and reverse took for ever, not to mention that the turning radius for this car is about the size of a Sydney suburb. I discovered that the slow gear change problem could be partially solved by engaging "power shift", I think a more suitable name for this would be "disengage suicidally slow gear change". It was about this time that the ABS brakes failed (after consulting the manual I was relieved to see that the normal breaks would still work) which may explain the metallic grinding sound that often came from the brakes. But Australians reading this will be saying, brakes, turning, what? Power is all that matters and so I will now address that. The engine is a 3.8L V6 producing 152 kW of gas guzzling power for the rear wheels. The problem is that that power doesnt get to the road as there is no traction control and due to the appalling gear box the tyres spend most of their time spinning. This was initially a good laugh but the novelty soon wears off on rough gravel roads. On the plus side the car was packed with all sorts of electronic wizardry that showed the average fuel consumption and how many km's until empty. On the last day I noticed that I had ~160 km left of gas so I figured I would wait before filling up, unfortunately I forgot that it was using the Australian number system so 20 km down the road I was warned that I had less than 50 km of fuel left. Finally lets look at styling, while it is better looking than a PT cruiser, even that is push. So to sum it up the car quickly became affectionately known during the trip as "the shitbox". So the next time I get offered an upgrade to a Holden Commodore I think I will pass on the offer and walk 1400km.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tasmania - Part I

The main reason for going to Tasmania was to attend the IC07 conference which was being held in Hobart. I was very lucky to be nominated for a talk which I assumed would be in some small room that maybe 30 people would come to, I couldn't be further from the truth. When I arrived at the confernce I was informed that the talk could be 12 min long at the very most (practices had it at ~18 min) so I spent the next few days trying to cut down the talk. Just before leaving for Tasmania I had also discovered that the talk was being held in the main plenary hall (shown below). In the end the talk went well and I even managed to just squeeze it down to 12 min. Unfortunately my arch nemesis won the Stranks prize, but I have put that down to the fact that she has Gingervitis and the judges felt sorry for her. With the talk out of the way I quickly bailed on the conference and went exploring in Tasmania.