It's time for me to write my thesis. So for the next month I'm going to go back and publish my journals from my trip to Melbourne. Tri-related because I did my first triathlon there (race report to come). They should be entertaining. I'll wait until the end to publish my Papua New Guinea Journal It's a long one. Let me know if you like em!
First journal: 2/21/04
Well, I have one week under my belt here in Melbourne. I feel like I’ve learned about 25 new languages and/or dialects since leaving the states. I’m starting to think that every English speaking country finds the need to screw up the language in their own quirky way in order to be trendy. In PNG I was introduced to Scottish English. So these people have deemed it trendy to ignore any and all T’s that are in the middle of words. Whose screwed up idea was that? Here I have realized that the letter of choice for Australians is R. Not only do they not pronounce their R’s, they pretend not to understand you if you do. I was on the tram Thursday because I was trying to hunt down a cheap bicycle. I was looking for a Kmart and asked the girl next to me what stop I should take. She was an asian girl, and based on the look she gave me when I asked where the K-mart was I knew she must not be from around here. So I asked again more slowly and with an even worse Wisconsin accent (why do I do that?). Still nothing. A couple seconds later a lightbulb went on for her, and she said “Oh, K-maaat?” I guess I’m going to have to conform if I want to find my way around here. Now, I’m not trying to put down everyone else’s take on the English language. I take full responsibility for having the least attractive accent on God’s green earth, but at least I make an attempt not to neglect any crucial consonants.
So besides learning all about the Australian accent, I had a very productive week. I made more friends since Sunday than I made in 2.5 years in Ohio. Unfortunately, they’re all female. But they are a very spunky group and besides my friend Janine, they are all single and looking. Here's a pic:
One of the more free-spirited girls is having a party on Thursday. Apparently she met a couple of fire fighters last weekend at the beach (while wearing a skimpy pink bikini). She made plans to meet up with them Thursday, but last night decided that 2 men wasn’t quite enough. So she met 2 more guys last night at the bar and invited them along. So now the rule is that every girl that attends the party has to bring a random single man. It’s a “random people party”. I now have 4 days to find my random person and I’m beginning to sweat it a little. I’m going to end up with the nose-picking pervert I just know it.
When I got back from PNG I was amazed that I made it through the trip without any major bouts of travelers illness. I hadn’t thought I would need to watch out in Australia. Last night the girls and I went to the Moonlight Cinema. It is basically a huge blow-up screen that they set up in the middle of Melbourne’s beautiful botanical gardens. The movie was Lost in Translation last night and moviegoers bring tons of food and wine to the show and it’s quite a lovely way to spend an evening.I was introduced to bread and dip last night. Instead of eating chips and dip, they eat bread and dip here. The dips are more exotic here, though and you can buy about 25 different kinds at the Victoria Market down the road. We had 6 kinds last night and they were very good. Or at least it seemed, until I woke up at 2 am in a cold sweat. Needless to say, the dips apparently weren’t happy with accommodations in my digestive system and headed to the nearest exit. My morning run helped me to feel a little better, but my theory about the dips being the culprit was validated when one of my swimming partners bailed on me for our training session this afternoon. She had the dips last night, too.
While I’m already on the subject, let me explain a little bit about the toilets here in Australia. They apparently are very concerned with water conservation here (I’ve been meaning to point out that they live on a giant island, but I haven’t run into the proper authorities). The toilets, therefore have about 2 cups of water in them. These 2 cups of water are about 2 feet from your bottom. You may know where I’m going with this… So every once and awhile I feel the need to do the dreaded #2 at work (the cereals here have a lot of fiber). Now in the states you can usually slip one out without much of a stir. Not here. You would think you’re laying down an air to land cruise missile. By the time I’m through everyone on the floor knows my bowel habits and I’ve had a second shower for the day.
Okay, I’m done with the gross-out stuff for today. Another cool development since I’ve gotten here is that I’ve convinced two of the girls to do triathlons with me! The first one is a week from Wednesday and I can’t wait. We are starting out with the ultra sprint variety which is a 300m swim, 10k bike, and 3k run. I’m trying to convince them to move up to the sprint level (500-20-5), but they tell me they think I’ll die on the swim. They may be right, but they obviously don’t know me very well. Because now I have a challenge. I’m going to sign up for the sprint on Monday. I’d do it today, but I’ve found myself without internet access. I refuse to let the computer nazi’s touch my laptop. These crazy bastards (that’s bastaads in Australian), strip you of administrative rights to your own computer and remove all music files and software before they will give you network access. They would have to rip my computer out of my dead rigorous fingers before they would take my music away from me.
Well, what else happened this week… My experiments have worked so far. I’ve been sent here to make some genetic manipulations to P. falciparum in order to piece together the mechanisms of drug resistance. I’m getting my DNA ready right now and it is cooperating. The woman I am working with (Jenny) is really great. I couldn’t ask for a better person to train me here. I’m meeting her for lunch tomorrow on Lygon street (a mecca of restaurants- mostly Italian). Then tomorrow night I am going to a concert with Janine (I’m hoping to pick up my random person there). The plans for tonight include a lot of DVD watching in close proximity to a toilet, just in case any more varieties of dip from last night become unhappy with me. I have the weekend to myself because my roommate has gone to Sydney to visit relatives. Oh yeah, the roommate. I guess have to speak about her a little, huh?
So my roommate is Arlene. She is a pediatrician who is doing a fellowship in malaria research. She is about the most animated person I’ve ever met. I’m currently trying to figure out if Arlene is gay- not that there’s anything wrong with that! I’m just nosy. Here’s my evidence so far- First of all, she has a pretty short crew-cut like hair-do and a lot of piercings. Not very convincing evidence here… Secondly, at the conference in Lorne a girl, who was definitely gay took a pretty quick liking to her. This is still not very good evidence. However, the kicker was her behavior at the beach last week. Beach volleyball is very big here. There are about 30 nets on the beach in St. Kilda. The first thing I notice is the dozens of perfect specimens of the male sex. We’re talking tan, built, and beautiful men. Hubba, Hubba. Amidst this she makes a beeline for the women’s teams. And takes pictures. To me, that’s just crazy given the distractions of the other courts. You make the call…
Well, I have to go get my laundry out of the dryer. I think $4 per load is highway robbery, but I guess you have to pay a price if you’re going to waste their precious reserves of water…
Talk next week,
A Few Good Swims
2 hours ago