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Australia Wrap-Up


Overall the IEEE ISTAS 2010 was a great experience, but not without its challenges… more on that in a later post. For now, I just want to say my talk went off without a hitch. I had 45 minutes but I think I went through it in something like 20, which was good because stretching it out any longer would have turned something meant to spark discussion into an eye-glazing experience for everyone there. Afterward there were good questions and comments, and later that day I had plenty of people coming up to me and engaging me in conversation, including Katherine Albrecht, self proclaimed anti-RFID crusader (and I don’t use that term lightly)… but again, more on that in a later post.

Of course there were plenty of media requests from newspapers to radio to TV spots, and as usual I’m still waiting for the copies promised me. I was able to download a couple final products so far from two different radio programs, one from JJJ and the other from ABC Radio.

2010-06-08 – JJJ Radio Australia Interview – m1885481


In the middle of the symposium I had a little problem with my dental implant healing abutment coming loose, but the local hardware store had a star driver the right size and I was able to rectify the problem. I found it odd though that when flying from Australia to New Zealand, airport security got all hot and bothered over a small container of coconut oil in my bag, but didn’t seem to notice or care that I had this fairly deadly piece of hardware in my bag. Also, sitting next to it was a pair of nail clippers, which are also said to be “very dangerous”.

Adjusting my dental implant

One thing I had never seen before in my life was Jim Beam whisky and Cola pre-mixed in a can. I wasn’t about to open the can sitting in my hotel mini-bar fridge, but I did make my way to the on-campus “Unibar” to sample this concoction. Given the fact I don’t really drink at all, I can’t say the taste surprised me for any other reason that I thought it was going to be horrible. Actually, it basically tasted like spicy Cola, and it did the job too because after one can my face and ears turned red and the walk back to my on-campus quarters was a bit slower than the walk to the Unibar was.

After the Symposium was over, I took the train south to a small town called Kiama. It’s a nice little place with amazing beachfront and a “blowhole” where the surf has eroded a tunnel through the rock and when waves strike the shore just right, water is forced up through the “blowhole” in a gigantic spectacle. Unfortunately, by the time I made my way over to it, daylight had faded and it was far too dark to take a photo.

Kiama at dusk

One thing I did get a photo of was a funny public service poster in the men’s room of one of the little pubs. I guess bar brawls are a problem in Australia, even in the small towns.

Anti bar-brawling bathroom poster

In the states, the only beer I drink is root beer. Here in Australia, I discovered ginger beer! It’s great, but I don’t think it would make a good float… I just don’t see it mixing too well with ice cream.

Ginger Beer!

On the last day in Australia, I decided to forego an expensive hotel room and rough it in a hostel. It was quite the experience walking around the Kings Cross area of Sydney. There is a great deal of interesting “art” and “colorful” people in that area, but nothing too outrageous. The one thing that can be said for that area is that it has just as many Thai food places as the downtown area has Sushi places. It’s simply my all around dream town when it comes to good cheap eats. I met up with fellow symposium presenter Dr. Mark Gasson and his girlfriend for some decent Thai food and finished up with gillato. He’s a really down to earth guy and told me all about working with Professor Kevin Warwick. He’s in to some very interesting projects and I think he and I will be keeping in touch for quite some time.

Hanging out with Dr. Mark Gasson

Just before leaving Australia for New Zealand, I got one final surprise. On a whim I bought a ticket to see one of the movies showing at the Sydney Film Festival. I picked Cyrus, which is an indie film staring Catherine Keener, John C. Riley, and Jonah Hill. As I was standing in line, I noticed Jonah Hill casually walk past me. As I pushed my way past all the lallygags standing around to take numerous pictures and blocking the way into the theater, I momentarily became part of the problem to snap the photo below, but quickly moved on.

Jonah Hill at screening of Cyrus

To top it all off, the movie was pretty good! I woke up early the next day and made my way to the airport, and now I’m sitting in Auckland, New Zealand. I’m looking forward to getting down to the “south island” and bumming around in a rental campervan for 5 days before slogging back to Seattle and getting back to work. I hope the piles of email and neglected trouble tickets waiting for me aren’t too high.

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2 Responses to “Australia Wrap-Up”

  1. mattologist says:

    Way to go Amal! Hope you guys had an awesome time.

  2. Jenny says:

    Fancy new homepage!! Looking gooooood 😉

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