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Nov 02

The Road Ahead

“The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” -Lincoln

Monday was a scorcher: 40 degrees in the city and not yet Summer. Opening windows to cool the apartment merely invites dry gusts of hot wind to invade the tepid un-conditioned air inside. This summer is going to be sweltering. It only takes a few days of similar temperament, and the air will start to acquire the sooty smell of bushfires. The drought conditions don’t help either. Perhaps water restrictions will be enforced, just like in the mid-nineties.

I caught up with Kit at lunch, and we decided to head down to the local supermarket and pick up something cold to lessen the amount of sweat making our clothes stick to our clammy selves. Up at the back of the store, I stood there in front of the ice cream fridge, holding the door open, letting the misty tendrils of chilled water vapour swathe me. A sole box of lemonade icy poles caught our eyes and we made off with that. I don’t think I’ve had icy poles since school. 35 cents each they were at the school canteen, perfect for those sweaty summer lunch times. Not as economical as those 20 cent frozen-lolly-water Zooper Doopers, but still affordable. I remember one day, when I was feeling particularly sweaty and wealthy, I splurged extravagantly on three Zooper Doopers. The last tube was a sickly sweet liquid by the time I got around to consuming it, but that was all the better. The immense sugar boost from it was used to fuel another 20 minutes of running around the playground. Prices seem to have doubled since then.

So there I was on Monday afternoon, with a box of 8 icy poles all to myself (well 7, because Kit had one). I chomped through five of them straight and fulfilled an age old childhood fantasy. Instead of being re-energised, however, I went straight for the couch and had a nap. How times change.

Last Friday’s exam marked not only the end of the academic year (for others too), but also the concluding exam of my four year degree at uni. And with that, another stage of life is over. After the pre-cognitive, taking-each-day-as-it-comes lifestyle of infants, the carefree abandon of primary school, the fond memories and growing worldliness of high school, and the freedom and independence of uni life comes the working life. Where suddenly, the better 40 or more hours in the week are no longer accessible for one’s own devices. The transition seems jarring. Over 21 years of relative freedom, cut short by the responsibilities of adulthood, which will last for decades more.

I’m not quite at the end of my uni life, though, having elected to do grad law. Uni life has everything going for it, except the money inflows. Over the years, I’ve come to realise just how different people from different faculties are. Without mentioning any specific generalisations, education really affects people’s worldviews and perspectives on things. After mixing with a Commerce/Science bunch for four years, it’ll be interesting to mix with some of the more humanities oriented law people, where ideas are expressed in words, instead of diagrams, tables and code. Which is funny, because in high school I hated the humanities. I suppose the difference is that high school was very competitive and mark orientated. Humanities were so subjective, and while I enjoyed the subject matter, I found it hard to guarantee a decent mark for assignments and exams. The amount of time invested in those subjects were never really correlated to the marks received, which was discouraging. However in uni, that rampant competitiveness seems to be absent (in my degree, anyhow). That allows people to do what courses they want to do, not because they can score the highest marks in them, but because they enjoy them. The UAI entrance score for degrees are not always correlated with the salaries of the jobs associated with them, which seems to be a large misconception. Which is why picking the right uni degree is so important. Anyone can stumble through a degree, but it really does help if you enjoy it.

My degree wasn’t actually completed until yesterday, when I submitted my thesis. After a complaint to the faculty dean, the thesis’ original due date of December 3 was reinstated. However, they only gave us two weeks notice before the earlier November 15 due date, so I had already prepared for a submission then. I gave the completed draft to my supervisor for feedback and revisions on the Monday before the 15th, and that’s when things got drawn out. The 15th came and went, but still no feedback. I arranged a meeting with him on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thurday and Friday of the following week, but always in the hour before the meeting, I’d get a phone call from him telling me to change a few things and come in the next day because he still hadn’t finished reading through my document. It was quite frustrating because I just wanted to get the damn thing out of the way. The TEC exam was on Friday, and I still couldn’t fully enjoy myself after that because the thesis still lingered. Finally, on Tuesday he gave me the remaining pages with revisions, and the approval to print the final document. Thus, because of the series of “false summits”, this page has been neglected, despite last Thursday’s post.

Uni results are released on the December 13, but there’s not much to do now except chill out. (The biggest news item I’ve heard from the last two weeks has been of the guy who incredulously burnt his dick with his laptop. I swear everyone’s been mailing or ICQing me that link. Sounds more like a radiation burn than a heat burn, which is rather disturbing given the area it occurred in.) To other things now.

Last Sunday I went to the Moonlight Over Manhattan concerts in the Botanical Gardens. The concert was mainly of pieces from Gershwin’s repertoire of musicals, sung by Julie Anthony, Simon Gallaher, Juan Jackson and with Simon Tedeschi on piano. A very pleasant way to spend a balmy Sunday evening, lazing out on a picnic mat as the evening darkness slowly crept over the park. I looked forward to hearing Tedeschi’s rendition of Rhapsody In Blue, but they had decided to create a “special arrangement” for it, introducing a second piano into the composition. Which would have been alright, if the other guy had managed to keep in time with Tedeschi (or the other way around). However, having notes quarter or half beat out of sync is fairly distracting. Oh well.

Soph got a new dog, a delightfully cute Golden Retriever puppy (hm, I tried, but there really isn’t a more masculine way to describe puppies :). She named him Brodie, which neither I or her brother really approve of, but it’s her dog I guess. I’d have preferred Bailey as a name, it being the same colour as the drink, but one of her friend’s dogs was already called that. Obligatory pictures soon.

Dave finished his exams on Tuesday, and he had his engineering friends over at the apartment. Joyce brought her PS2 along (we really need to get ourselves a games console, but we’re misers), along with a new copy of LOTR which we completed over the course of the night. We walked down to the 24 hour Maccas afterwards, only to find out that the dining room was closed between 3-5am, but drive-thru was open. So there were 7 of us tramping through the drive through, with cars either side of us giving us funny looks. Dave felt a little too stupid walking through drive-thru, so we made Tony and Mark go pick up the car back at the apartment while we just hung around the parking lot. 10 minutes later, they arrived and we went through drive-thru in the car, which felt just as stupid. We took our stuff down to Coogee. (7 people in a station wagon = 1 person visible in the boot and 4 people without seatbelts. Earlier in the night for dinner in Randwick, when we were looking for parking, we somehow ended up behind a large van marked “Police Rescue”, freaking out Tony who hurriedly reversed into a side street and made everyone get out.) In an attempt to avert our eyes from the possibility of fat drunk couples screwing on the beach, some genius decided to pick a park table to eat at, which also happened to be directly downwind of the toilets which were emitting an unearthly stench.

There is a distinct lack of places to eat that are open for 24 hours in Sydney (McDonald’s doesn’t really count as food, does it?) Dave and I are looking forward to heading back to Asia and the round-the-clock availability of cheap, real food, as we have been subsisting on a diet of mouldy tofu for the last few weeks.

Nocturnal Diversions
Speaking of couples screwing, there’s been some interesting activity happening across the road. About a month ago at about 11pm, Mark and Dave are working on an engineering assignment in the lounge when Dave yells out, “Hey come quick!” I go out of my room and they are both staring out the balcony window at the apartment across the street, opposite us. On the top level of the building, there’s one brightly lit room where we can see everything going down in. Including the girl who has just slunk into the room… onto this shirtless guy. So they start making out and slowly descend from the vertical hug position down to the horizontal dance position, where, unfortunately they disappear momentarily out of view, although we can see the guy’s back occasionally rising above the window line. A few moments later the guy reemerges upwards and that was that.

A few minutes later, the scene virtually repeats itself. Mark, Dave and I are pretty distracted from our studies at this stage. Dave says to me, “Do you have a telescope or something?”
“No, but I have a video camera… it’s got zoom.”
“Fucker! Go get it…”
“Uh… that’s not right…”
“Ehh… 450x digital zoom!”

Meanwhile, Mark is trying to have nothing to do with us, but he’s still gawking out the window. Unfortunately, the camera battery was flat, foiling Dave’s plan. So we started charging the battery and went back to studying.

An hour later, back at the window…

Mark goes, “Hey, someone’s walking around the apartment topless, not sure if its the guy or the girl… hmm… oooh, ok it’s the girl.”

And it was indeed, based on the side profile. She turned away from us and started bending up
and down. Repeatedly. The guy was no where to be seen, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t in the room, if you know what I mean. She walked away when suddenly, poof! Out went the lights, down went the blinds, ending our little stint of voyeurism for the night.

Amongst our friends, it’s become a very well known apartment, although I think our gawking has been a little too obvious. Well, it would be if there were six faces pressed up against windows, peering at you from across the street. On more than one occassion, they have waved at us, before shutting the blinds and getting down and dirty. Oh well, perhaps one day they’ll get caught up in the passion of the moment and forget there’s a bunch of perves across the street from them hehe. (But hey, if you’re going to be that visible, expect to be watched!)

Have a 22nd on Saturday, a 21st next Saturday (Happy Birthday Denise!). They are both themed parties. What is it with those themes? Argh… hate em… too much thought required. Happy 22nd Birtdhay to Pro as well!

Heading down to South Australia next Tuesday for three days to experience the solar eclipse. Ceduna, which is in the middle of the eclipse path, is expected to be packed full of observers, and there have been overnight “tent cities” set up along the eclipse path. We have opted to go to the Wirraminna rail sidings instead, in the outback, to view it. Being further inland, the eclipse will last an insignificant two seconds shorter, and the place is in the middle of nowhere, but the chance of rain is much decreased compared to coastal Ceduna (despite the drought conditions present in Australia). We’ll probably be camping overnight there too. Without the light pollution of cities, I expect the night sky will be brilliant. Looking forward to it.

Heading overseas in December too. Itinerary is:

– 18/12: Sydney to Singapore
– 19/12: Singapore to Hat Yai
– 21/12: Hat Yai to Singapore
– 22/12: Singapore to Hong Kong
– Between 22/12 and 02/01: 2 days in Guangzhou, visiting my grandmother’s home town
– 02/01: Hong Kong to Singapore
– 04/01: Singapore

Unfortunately there’s a lot of travelling involved which will suck up much time. I’m looking for a new digital camera while in Singapore. Something in the ultra-portable class that fits into pockets with room to spare so it won’t impale me in the groin when I sit down. The new Canon Digital Ixus v3 looks appealing (250g, 3.1 megapixels).