Monday, June 27, 2011

Exploding Garden!

So the garden totally exploded while I was gone! I think we're all a little mesmerized that everything is growing. I know I am!

Tonight was our first big harvest. Check out all the beans! We're estimating 2 pounds!

We even got a good job sign from the Garden Fairies! Right in front of the lettuce we picked tonight.

Baxter was excited to visit for the first time. Don't worry...he didn't water any gardens. Did some preventative toileting to make sure it wouldn't be a problem.

And the best is that our corn is taller than knee high and it's not even July!

Mucking Good Time

I'd like to say that I'm stronger than jet lag, but I'm not! I traveled over 40 hours to get home on Friday. It was a miserable trip. Our first flight was at 7am, so we were up at 4am. Our second flight was delayed an hour. After the 15 hour flight to LA, our flight to Chicago was cancelled. We were transferred to a flight that connected in Dallas. The flight out of Dallas didn't have a crew, so it was delayed a little over an hour. Oddly, I was wide awake at midnight when we got to Chicago and drove the 3 hours home. Got home at 5:30am, took a nap and then got up for the Mudathelon! We had a mucking good time! Now it's 1:39am on Sunday and I'm wide awake. Thanks jet lag!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I've lost track of the days.

All our plans have changed. Stupid volcano in Chile sent it's ash cloud over here and flights are being cancelled right and left. We aren't too upset to be stuck in Sydney today and tomorrow, but it could get tricky after that. Kinda need to get back for our Friday flight.

We've done soooooo much. I can think of 2 museums we have NOT been to. It's super handy that I'm a student and mom is over 65. We get in most places for a fraction of the admission price. Anyway, it's a good thing I've been taking pictures or I might forget all the stuff we've been!

This morning we got a backstage tour of the Sydney Opera House. Super cool. I momentarily dreamt of being in the Australian Ballet Company and dancing on the Opera Theatre stage.

Mom and I both pretended to conduct a symphony in the concert hall.

Then we wandered through the Royal Botanical Gardens where squawking cockatoos surrounded us!

We ended up by the Museum of Sydney which was pretty cool. Did you know that the Australians put all the Germans living in Australia into concentration camps during WWI? They were NOTHING like the concentration camps that the Germans put Jews in, but they weren't exactly lovely either. Interesting exhibit. After lunch we walked all the way back to the Australia Museum which is just plane awesome. There was an exhibit about the history of indigenous people in Australia. Sad to learn about how their culture was nearly ripped away by the white people. The history is similar to the treatment of Native Americans. Sad.

Now we're just wondering how tomorrow will pan out. Pretty much all flights in Sydney and Melbourne have been cancelled for tomorrow. We seriously don't know if we'll be able to get home as planned. Trying to see it as an adventure, but the reality is I'm kind of frazzeled!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sydney Tour Day 1

Oh my goodness. We had the best day! We're staying on Darling Harbor and can easily take a ferry to Circular Queue. It's basically a water bus. Holds a few hundred people and only costs $2.50 per trip. Great way to view the city!

Here's mom knitting on the Ferry this morning, and me wearing the infamous red sweater that I knit.

We took the ferry to Toronga Zoo. I loved it! It's about the size of Brookfield Zoo. There are 3 baby elephants. Two were born this spring. One was born last fall. All were seriously cute!

I know it's not a great picture, but I was nearly attacked by this peacock at lunch! Ok...not really attacked, but it snuck up on me and I may have made some noise when I turned around.

I think I like the little wallabies even better than the big kangaroos. They were in a walk-about enclosure. One hopped right in front of me! You could get pretty close to them and they didn't seem to mind much.

I'm most proud of my koala pictures. They were in a really well designed space with a ramp around their trees. We were pretty close, but I admit my camera was zoomed in a bit!

One of the best parts about the zoo was the view of the city. Sweet, right?

I think the kamodo dragon likes me.

I love giraffes! Their enclosure had the best view of the city, but I didn't get a great picture.

After the zoo, we hopped on a free shuttle having no idea where it s going! Just did it for the adventure. Turns out it dropped us off at Hyde Park which happens to be across from St. Mary's Cathedral. We sat through evening prayers and then mass. The Bishop said mass which was pretty special. Mom and I went up for a blessing during communion and ended up in the Bishop's line! Totally made our day! After mass we found a great Irish pub with live music and good food. All in all a fantastic day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

How much is too much for Dr. Pepper?

Maybe if soda cost $29.95 for a 24-pack, we'd drink less of it. And that's half price! A 20 oz soda is $4 here in Melbourne. Sometimes I saw certain brands on sale 2/$5. Well...that's one way to fight the obesity epidemic!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Exploring Melbourn

Yesterday (Thursday) was a day of exploring and celebrating. We visited the old Queen Victoria Markets which were quite the site. Several bunkers full of tourist crap followed several bunkers of the good stuff! There was a fruit and vegetable market and a HUGE meat market that included cheeses. Soooo cool! I loved seeing all the fresh fish. Obviously we didn't have much need for raw meats, but Mark and I finally found kangaroo salami! Now I can say I've eaten kangaroo. It tasted just like any other salami.

Just one corner of the fruit and veg market.

How adorable are these little aprons?!? They were in one of the 2 cute shops in the markets.

Decoration boomerangs were in no short supply. Only $5, but the don't work.

We surprised my adviser at dinner. Very clever of us. She had no idea that we knew it was her birthday!

Kids these days...

Nothing too exciting to report from Australia. I explored a little this morning, got really tired, and went back to the conference for the afternoon. After all, that's why I'm here! Anyway, I decided to post funny pictures from the day we left.

Ever wonder what happens when you give a kid an iPad? A lot more than you might ever imagine. There's a reason most gadgets come with a quick start up guide and no actual instruction manual. Gadgets are intuitive, and kids will proove it every time. I let me nephews play with my iPad the other day. They figure out everything. And I mean EVERYTHING!!! My one year old nephew figured out real fast how to play the xylophone. And by that I mean he figured out that if he pressed the home button, the app went away and he figured out which app to open so he could play more. Yowzers!

My 4 yr old nephew figured out the Cut the Rope game and got to level 22. Jerk! Pretty sure I've only ever gotten to level 10. Boy did I feel dumb! He really took to the camera. I started with about 12 pictures and ended up with over 350! Here are a few of the moments he captured. We were all laughing like crazy.

Muscle man!

Pearly whites!


Too cool for school.

I think it's hilarious that he took a picture with the iPad of his little brother messing with the iPhone.

Don't you wish there were 2 of him?!?!?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dear Volcano, please quit erupting.

Oh my gosh! Have you all heard about the volcano in Chile that's causing loads of travel woes? It seems most of the ash cloud is over Australia and New Zealand. Just my luck.

Yesterday's conference time was good. The research group that I'm a part of was invited to come to this conference to describe and demonstrate our project. I have to admit, our project pretty much rocks. The principal investigators (professors) are amazing to work with and they take such good care of us, plus the other grad students are super fun to work with. No wonder I actually like grad school! Here are a few pictures of my fellow grad students preparing for the demo.

Dinner last night was probably the highlight of the day. Partly, because the only food I had between breakfast and dinner was a cup of coffee and a cookie. Mostly because we had amazing Italian food and laughed and laughed and laughed. Marc and Maggie had baby snapper. Marc's fish was staring at me the entire time. With about 28 teeth! I've never seen so many teeth on a fish other than a piranha!

Today is already Thursday here. I think you all are getting ready for bed on Wednesday as i write this. I'll go exploring this morning and then head back to the conference this afternoon. I'll leave you with a few sights along the Yarra River.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Survived the 16 hour flight!

How was your Monday? I didn't really have one. I left LA at 11:30pm. Immediately we were forced to switch to Melbourne time which was 5:30pm on Monday. They served us a late dinner, and told us to go to sleep. Which of course I did. I woke a few times, but I didn't really wake up till 5am when they served breakfast. So according to Qantas, I flipped from bedtime on Sunday in LA to dinner time on Monday in Melbourne in a matter of minutes. I'm surprised how easy the switch was! I was so tired, I didn't really care.

Chicago to LA was an adventure. We were late getting to the airport, but that didn't much matter when I realize our flight was delayed. I tried to leave my poster at security. A certain someone asked that I refer to research posters as a "poster of research awesomeness" to distinguish it from a jr. high science fair poster board. So I ran back to security to claim my posternof research awesomeness, but it already been deemed suspicions and they made me stand there while they leisurely checked it for explosives. For real. Then I nearly left the dang thing on the airplane in LA. Oops!

I think I'm most excited that I got to fly in an A380. The A380 is currently the largest passenger plane out there. I have an inside scoop on the A380, because a certain someone was a part of the engine test flights. Way back in 2006, I visited Toulouse, France for the first time. He left me on the side of the road outside the Airbus headquarters so that I could watch for the A380 take off. Might sound lame, but seeing it take off is quite the sight. It does this hover thing that you don't see in normal passenger planes. As you can imagine loading about 800 people on a plane is a pain, and the terminals for them are often really far away from civilization. I think we walked at least 1.5 miles to get to our terminal.

Qantas did a few things right on this flight.
1. Everyone got a meal card. If you're asleep when they come by for a meal, they keep your meal in the oven and you can have it later.

2. There are snacks available at your leisure and the snacks are good! Apples, cookies, seasoned almonds, etc. Plus you can get your own drink whenever you want it. Every airline should do this.

3. There are foot rests. Thank you!

Ok, well...time for me to check into my room, freshen up a bit and go exploring! It's 1pm on Tuesday in Melbourne and 11pm on Monday in Indiana. Craziness!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's about to get crazy!

I'm heading to Australia tomorrow, so things are getting crazy. Despite all my traveling, I hate packing. This time I have a packing list and I'm sticking to it! Hopefully that will prevent over-packing. No promise that I will remember everything I need though. I'm always liable to forget something. Here are the top 5 things I'm most excited about:

1. I get to present my research in Melbourne, Australia! I mean's pretty awesome.
2. I finally get to drive on the wrong side of the road without being yelled at! We rented a car to drive from Adelaide to Melbourne along the coast. I've heard it's one of the mos beautiful drives ever. I'm thinking that me driving on the wrong side of the road for 13 hours with my mom in the passenger seat could be a little stressful, but I'm still excited!
3. I have 3 days to roam the streets of Sydney. Oprah house, the Rocks, cool times!
4. I got some really good deals on hotels and the car. In Melbourne we got the room for $75 less per night because my mom is a "senior." In Sydney, we got 1 night free! They had a deal if you drove a car one way from Adelaide to Sydney or Melbourne. $5.50 a day! Even with insurance, it was only $40 for 3 days!
5. My dad doesn't know it yet, but he's getting a Nook color today so that he can keep in touch with us better while we're gone. He doesn't read my blog, so we're safe announcing this!

Alright, well laundry and packing are calling my name. I can hardly wait for the 16 hour flight! Not true. Obviously that didn't make the top 5 list of exciting things. In fact, I'm kind of dreading the flight. Anything over 2 hours is too long if you ask me, but's quicker than a steam boat! I will be blogging from Australia, so stay tuned!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

iPad apps I'm loving right now

This iPad was obviously a big purchase. I did tons of reading before making the decision to be sure that I would have a tech tool that could enhance my life and not just a fun gadget. Trust me...this is one heck of a fun gadget!!! When I travel, it's a rare event to forget about work. These days, most of my big travel is for work. I'm actually heading to Australia for a conference here soon. Pity, right? When I'm away I need to be able open and edit documents, I need remote access to my office computer, I of course I need email with the ability to attach documents as needed. What I hate is lugging around my giant laptop and acquiring random notepads of notes during the conference. I'm decently strong, but lugging around a laptop during a week-long conference can do a number on my back! Here is the arsenal of apps that I've gotten in the last few days to make traveling with only my iPad possible. I have very few apps on my iPhone that I paid for. However, I knew that most productivity apps would be paid apps. Here they are...

iWorks $9.99 each

iWorks is actually a suite of 3 apps including Pages, Keynote, and Numbers. They are the iPad counterparts to Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. I'm honestly not sure how well it works to create a new document and then edit it on a PC. Importing Microsoft documents and making edits isn't bad though. To be fair, I haven't done anything major with these yet, but the reviews I've read are good. I'm really impressed with the general sophistication of these apps. The documents you can create using these apps are far from basic! It takes a little to get used to, but there are tutorials at are super helpful.

Splashtop $1.99

Splashtop is a remote desktop application. This was a gutsy decision on my part. I mean do you know if a remote desktop app is going to work for you just be looking at a brief description and some screenshots? I read reviews, but even those direct me to a single best app. Finally I found a review that basically said Splashtop was the best because of the ease of set-up and the price. Some of the other remote desktop apps are $30! One downside is that you have to download some software onto the home base computer. That meant I had to submit a request to our IT department. Luckily, they were totally cool with it! Once the home base computer software is activated and a password is set, it's super easy to connect and my brief test tells me that I can do anything with this app! Plus, you can access multiple computers! I'm going to install the software on my home computer too. $1.99 well spent!

Daily Notes +todo $4.99

I wanted an app that would allow me to type notes during meetings and create corresponding action items. There are lost of apps for creating task lists. There are also lots of apps for taking and organizing notes. Evernote is pretty popular. It's not bad. I like the way Daily Notes is organized better. You create your own notebook categories. Right now I have one for project meetings, dissertation related stuff, blog ideas, and conferences. The app basically creates a new page for each note book on each day of the month. It's easy to visualize your notes by date. You can also add tags within the note categories. There is a task list within each category as well. So let's say I'm in a project meeting like I was today. I can take general notes throughout the meeting. When an action item comes up, I can immediately create a task with a priority level, a tag for easy searching, and a due date. You can also email the meeting notes to anyone. I believe you can also delegate tasks. Boom! Done. When I'm back at my desk I can review all the tasks for all categories in one view. There is one feature that I have yet to have an opinion on: I don't think you can sync with your online calendar. So my final opinion is that this is one very organized, stand alone digital notebook and I like it!

BlogPress $2.99

Alright...blogging isn't really work, but it's also not so simple to do from your phone. Blogging through the Blogger site on an iPad isn't as simple as you might think either. Everything is all fine and dandy until you want to upload a picture from your iPad. So, to really be able to integrate images, you need an app. I honestly don't know why I ended up picking BlogPress. I'm sure I read reviews, but they aren't etched in my mind. It's easy to use. I need to work out a few quirks related to formatting, but it's just a learning curve thing.

Right, so the grand total spent on apps is $40. But actually, I had a $20 gift card to BestBuy that I used to buy iTunes gift cards and a $10 iTunes gift card that I bought using Chase rewards. So I only actually spent $10 out of pocket on the apps. Not too bad if you ask me!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Once apon a time, there was a Garden...

Once upon a time (and that time is actually now) there was a beautiful garden. The garden was planted by Emily, Rebecca, John, and me.

Rebecca and Emily are very happy about how the garden is growing!

The beans are growing!

The tomatoes are blooming!

Everything is growing! Oh wait. That's not our garden! That's Jim and Jim's. We've learned a lot from them!

John is really happy to water while the girls watch. Look closer! He's smiling!

Radishes are almost ready!

Lettuce's growing.

Cabbage is doing awesome! Doing awesome over in Jim and Jim's garden!

TusaRebecca and RegularRebecca look too school for school!