A taste of sun

Maybe it’s because I’ve switched to a predominantly desk role (in a chilly office) but this winter has felt particularly cold and oppressive. So I escaped the Melbourne chill and spent five nights in warmer Brisbane. Ah sun, how I’ve missed you!

The flora in Brisbane is beautiful. I love the city’s green spaces and the walkway along the river. I walked, kayaked, snorkled, and cycled. All the while soaking in the beautiful sun.

 

Beach conference/holiday

Kookaburra!

After almost four years, I’m now officially a doctor. Woohoo!
Now to find a job…

A few days after I submitted my thesis, my friend and I headed to the Great Ocean Road for a conference. We left a few days early in order to hit the beach. Except it was cold. And wet. We did check out the cafes, admire the birds and dogs, walk along the beach, and check out a waterfall. But mainly we hid out in our cheap cabin.

The weather turned good just as the conference started. Both of us felt out of place. It’s not so bad attending talks that aren’t your field, provided the speaker is good. If not, you end up spending the time playing with your phone, falling asleep, or (in my case) drawing people who are falling asleep. So my friend and I attended the morning talks and then spent the afternoon on the beach (we didn’t actually pay for our registration, otherwise we’d feel too guilty). The water was amazing. It actually turned out to be a nice cheap holiday.

It’s dangerous to sit in front of me during a lecture. I will draw you.

Segway!

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I wanted to take a segway tour in Dallas next week but it was booked out. Not sure what I’m going to do in Dallas now…
So today I went out for a morning 2hr segway tour. I was the only one booked in and got bumped to the afternoon 3hr tour at no extra cost. Yay!

That left some time to do something else. I went to the SkyDeck (after buying some more books at Borders. Considering I can buy two novels in the US for less than the price of one in Aus, I’m going to make the most of any bookstores I come across). The SkyDeck is a 442m tall building and is amusing for all of 10 minutes. And then they try to sell you quality photos of yourself for $20+. Thanks but I’ll settle for the free shot taken by a random. So many places insist on taking a photo of you, printing it out, and then asking you to fork out a small fortune. It’s annoying. What do they do with all those unsold photos anyway?

If you ever visit a city that offers segway tours then take it. They’re awesome!
It didn’t take that long to get the feel of it, though I did have trouble remaining stationary and was always crawling forward. I love how responsive they are at turning.

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It was a hot 33C and one of the people had to stop an hour in because she felt dizzy. The main thing I needed was breaks to rest my feet. My heels ached a bit afterwards. And I was a mass of sweat from all that heat. It was quite gross and demanded a shower.

I finished the day by making some pasta (with bottle sauce, veggie mince, carrots, mushrooms). It felt good being able to cook after so long but also strange because I was doing it in a communual area. I planned on making four serves but ended up with five and plenty of carrots left over (sucks that they were sold by the bag). Five meals for less than $9 is pretty awesome. And it was organic produce too. If organic food in the US costs so little then why does it cost so much in Australia?

Smitten with Chicago

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Jelly from the aquarium I visited today

Another thing I didn’t take into account when travelling – heyfever. Dammit…

From the airport, I happened to get on a bus with a cranky driver who liked to beep the horn a lot. When I asked cranky driver about my stop, she gruffly told me to listen to the announcements. And then got cranky at me because I missed my stop and told me off for not listening to the announcements. I was listening. The only announcements were what the bus number was and what direction it was heading. No stop announcements (though I have since heard them on other buses so if must have been faulty). So I had to back-track two stops.
It’s so stupid, not even the bus stop signs gave any indication what stop they are. I hate buses.

I reached my hostel and the lobby told me that I couldn’t check-in for another few hours and that I couldn’t leave my bags because the bag storage areas was full. The common areas were quite nice so I decided to hang out there. Except that all of us waiting to check-in got ejected because they wanted to take photos. So I crankily marched back to the main street with my bags and had lunch. Not what you would call a good first impression.

Aside from all that, I’m liking Chicago so far. I’m staying in a very pretty area with lots of greenery and is nice and quiet. The houses look charming. There also seems to be a food culture more aligned to my taste. Except for lack of take-away sushi shops that I’m used to seeing back home. I have seen plenty of nice looking Japanese restaurants in the US so I think it’s a case that Australia has no class when it comes to Japanese food. Still, I like my sushi rolls…
This hostel is great too. Much nicer and cleaner than my San Diego box. The common areas are nice and the kitchen set-up is good. They even have group activities like BBQs and pub crawls, though I’ll give the pub crawl a miss…

Bananas here cost 19c each. Given that they were over $12 per kilo when I left (since the crops were devasted by the floods), this is fantastic. They are free with breakfast but I couldn’t stop myself from buying some anyway.

New York

PhotobucketI’ve never before been interested in the window seat of a plane. But now that I have caught a red-eye, I can see the appeal. To see the lights of a city is stunning. And I got to see a thunder storm as well. But I think I prefer being able to sleep.
Thankfully, my hostel provided free airport transport. And the staff were nice enough to offer me breakfast. I couldn’t check in until the afternoon so I went to the Field Museum. It was massive. I was too sleep deprived to appreciate it but it was still pretty cool. Then I got horribly lost trying to catch the subway. The museum stop was littered with great mosaics.

Today I went and saw The Lion King. Best. Broadway. Ever. The costumes, props, and performances were beautiful.  I loved how they did the wildebeest stampeade. Wasn’t so keen on the new songs but the original ones sounded great. Rafiki stole the show. I am so glad that I got to see it. I didn’t even want to come to to New York originally. It was only because the guy booking my flights told me that it was cheaper to fly to Chicago via NY than to fy direct. How bizzarre.
Well, that ends my whirlwind tour of NY. I fly out early tomorrow.

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Mosaic at the Museum subway stop

Airport procrastination

I’m at the airport, working on my thesis. Well, not right now…but I wrote a sentence before and I totally plan on writing a few more sentences that I wont delete later…

Next stop is New York. It would have been nice to not catch a red-eye but San Diego only has one runway so that flight is my only option. I have some melatonin tablets handy so hopefully I get enough sleep to stop me from being a zombie.
I was originally set to stay in Manhatten. But a few days before I left I received an email informing me that the hostel had closed down. Now I’m staying closer to the airport. It’s probably just as well, since my flight from NY departs at 9am. I’ll just have to make use of the subway to reach

I’m currently suffering a form of homesickness. I’m not actually homesick – I only had a brief period of that last week. But I want my desktop and tablet. I want to doll. More urgently, I want to do digital art and practice backgrounds. I never want to practice backgrounds. But something about browsing DA and being stuck with only a trackpad has fuelled the desire. With luck, the desire will still be there when I finally return home.
I have done a little bit of sketching. The first few days I tried ended in disaster and left me feeling that I had lost any ability to draw. I’m still not happy with the faces and haven’t attempted any full-bodied portraits but I’m gradually getting the momentum back.
PhotobucketI am also able to partially satisfy my dolling craving. Last night I started to trace over a drawing and it seemed to go well, if mch slower. The tackpad was hurting my wrist a bit and I don’t think I can do anything beyond tracing. If only I had thought to save more of my drawings to my laptop…
Aside from my first three nights, no cross stich has been done. I just can’t seem to do it without a TV.

I just have to say this – I hate US tax. In Australia, the tax is included in the marked price. While I understand why this may not be the cae in the US, it is really pissing me off. I like to know how much something will cost before I reach the register. That way, I can have the money ready instead of holding everyone up while searching for the right change. Otherwise, I just accumulate more and more coins. Including those stupid pennies. Can’t you just abolish it and round to the nearest five cents please?
Really taking a shine to bagels. Australia needs more bagals.