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Today is Sunday. I am sitting in the office. Yeah, I am sitting in the office. Seems to have become a habit ever since I came back to the old continent.
Because it’s Sunday and because I should really relax I am trying to think of a continuity for this blog. Now that I am back from Down-Under it seems to be a bit pointless, doesn’t it? Obviously it can’t be about kangaroos anymore..neither can it be about SCRamjets..even though I am determined to persevere in this field until people will be calling me Dr. (SCRamjet) Petrache. 🙂
Leaving that aside, I was thinking about making it a journey blog. Because I have the intention of discovering some more parts of our beautiful Earth.
That being settled I wanted to write some sort of a bottom line thing about what this Australia trip meant to me.

Before I left I imagined going there like suddenly stepping into a movie. Now, that I came back I feel like I stepped out of a movie. It’s very difficult to explain. Even though everything there is functioning after the same parameters as here, it’s just different. Is like a double-sided puzzle: put the pieces in one order you get a ..something, rearrange them and you get a something else.
The general cliché about this country is that the people are nice and welcoming and very tolerant, due to the large flux of emigrants. That is totally true. And their “relaxation” is translated in a very pleasant working environment – I am talking here about the atmosphere at the University of Queensland, where I spent lot of time. The professor – PhD student relationship is much more different than anything I heard of so far. It’s closer to my taste, I would say.
Another observation would be that people, at least in Brisbane, where I spent most of my time, have absolutely no clue about what energy-saving means. In public buildings as the university or malls or even busses the air-conditioning is always running in the warm season, even when outside are just 25°C. When it gets really hot outside (around 30-35°C), inside is freezing cold (20-25°). The houses which don’t have this new supercool air-conditioning technology use ceiling-fans to get a small breeze. I think lot of the energy required for any of these cooling-techniques could be saved if they would just build their houses in a more reasonable way. Which brings me to the next point: houses / buildings construction. The traditional Brisbane house is made of some sort of thin wooden-panels, has at the ground level a parking space and rooms at the upper level. The concept behind the “empty” space from under the house allows the air to circulate. That is good for summer, but bad deal for winter when the average temperature goes to 10°C. The average Brisbane house also doesn’t have any kind of wall- or windows -isolation.
Being in Australia gave me the feeling of eternal holiday. The 2 months I spent there were among the most relaxing times I ever had. Even if heat can be a pain in the *** sometimes. I was really wondering if I could live in such a place for longer. Because being born in Europe, having lived in Constanta, Bucharest and Munich – which are relatively large cities – I was adapted to stress, I am always looking for something to do, somewhere to be.. Australia is a great place for a one year vacation, but is not where I would like to spend my young-adult life. Maybe except for Sydney..With this city was love at first sight: it has the beaches, it has the cultural life, it has the marvelous landscapes, tiny original cafes, the breathtaking skyscrapers, the diversity – to put it in one word – my soul would need to feed on.

In a nutshell, going to such a far away place is very educative. It gives you the chance to see that everything what you’ve been used to so far, even the smallest things like waking up hour or working habits, is not what “normal people do”. It’s just a consequence of geography and history. We are all a sum of what our ancestors chose to do. Even if you have learned this in school, maybe you haven’t really processed it, or even if you did process it, you haven’t fully understood it. And experiencing it opens a totally new perspective.
We have so much to lean from our own kind, that the human kind’s desire to reach other outer-space civilizations seems kind of ridiculous in this light.

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From Sydney with love

These are the words buzzing in my head after we came back. This city is…let’s just say that if Europe would be half a globe closer to this place, I wouldn’t have any hesitation in picking this one as my home. I kept saying ever since I came that it would be impossible to try and describe it, simply because there are so many things which this palce awakens in me. But I will do my best to do just that.
First of all, I don’t mean to offend any people I met here in Brissie, but Sydney is so much more on so many other levels than Brisbane. It’s huuuge and it has .. lot of sea! I know it sound kind of stupid, but a good part of the city is composed by gulfs and beaches. Check Wiki for more geographical details. And people here knew to make the most of this fortunate situation. There are so many nice landscapes to discover. I was actually telling S. that is not really fair how some cities or countries get it all: beaches, mountains, cristal clear waters and so on.
Yeah..so what did I see? Well..Opera House of course. The glimpse of it just took a genuine „Woaaa“ out of me. It’s exactly as in all the postcards you see. Simply impressive through it’s architecture and location. Now..you will notice that taking pictures of it from the ground level is not an easy job. 😀
Neeeext: the Royal Botanical Gardens. Almost two centuries old. They are located close to the Opera House and are a gorgeous and relaxing walk. So many types of trees, lot of ficus (from the several species we saw there, S. re-named some 🙂 ). I always tought this country is friendly. Now I have the proof: in this place, where one doesn’t have to pay an entrance fee, they invite you to walk on the grass. There are indicators saying just that! Really!
The other really cool thing we saw was the Darling Harbor and the Pyrmonth Bridge, a very touristicky and commercial area, but again..extremly impressive through its immenseness. I kept thinking while on the bridge how would it be to climb over the fence and spread your wings and just go! Fly razor close to all the boats and water (producing the Coanda effect, hihi!), go between the 60 levels high skyscrapers, make people go „Wow!“ Just imagining this made me get the goose-bumps.
Also in this region we got to witness a nice band playing some cool blues in a bar. I got to hear „Let love rule“ sang by a funky blondie.
Chinatown – unimpressive. Just lot of funny talking people and strange looking (and tasting probably too) food. And also lot of odors. Not the nicest ones.. But went away fast. I kept connecting this region with scenes from an action movie, because looking up I could always see some obscure windows making my imagination go wild!
Now…there was a tiny inconvenient: the weather. S. thought Sydney is a very English city. I would agree..in terms of the weather. It was raining 2/3 days. A small, annoying rain which was not making the clothes wet, but just moisty. So we tried to overcome this by going to the aquarium. Sharks, turtles, dugongs and some cool anemonnas. The useful thing I got left with ist hat now I can make the difference between a male and a female shark..
The third day we had luck with some smiley sun so we got up to the 260m high tower to get the incredible panorama. It was breathtaking! As everything else in this city. Go there! Go!

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Tonight we went to Mount Coot-Tha. This is – as the name says – a higher region located in Brisbane, where you can have a bird’s eye view of the city. By night is very charming. You can see all the pretty lights from down-town and if your eyes are good and no clouds are on the sky, also the Southern Cross and other constellations. I hanged a picture for this.

Now..there are some more pictures from our trip to the Stradbroke Island – pretty easy to identify.
The rest of three are..lamps. Today, because of a rain shower, we took shelter in the Mathematics building. There we discovered a funky room which designed as study place for students. Very interesting furniture, especially lamps which made the subject of the pictures presented here.

Tomorrow will probably be the last day I am going to the office, because on the 24th I have to bake the apple pie for Orphan’s Christmas. This is a special Christmas that 20 or so “orphan” people will celebrate together, because their mommy and daddy are far far away. Thanks to the initiative of Thomas and Wilsooooooon ( 🙂 ) and the courtesy of Jenny, whom I haven’t met yet, we will all have a place to enjoy Christmas together..and a pool. Yey! More details are to come, but this is pretty much what is expecting us on the 25th of December, in the year of grace 2009.

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This week has been a bit busy. From work point of view and also..personal stuff. That’s why I haven’t really posted anything anymore. I do have some new pictures, but now I am on my way to the airport. What do you mean what airport?! I already mentioned I will be going to the Whitsunday Islands this weekend. And from the Airlie Beach off for a 2 day cruise around these islands.
So..camera – check, passport – check, swimwear – check, hat – check, maps – check, tooth paste and brush – check, shower gel – check, towel – check, sun lotion – check, books – check..
Did I leave anything out? Wallet and cellphone – check.
Ok, so I guess I am ready to go.

I’ll see you guys one paradise later!

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Excruciating pain

No, no, everything is ok.
There isn’t actually much to say. On Sunday I was lazy as hell. Even Wii fit couldn’t stir things up.
Monday and Tuesday..a bit of work, reading, preparing the presentation I am about to give here, etc. I also tried to book a nice boat trip around the Whitsunday Islands. I was very excited about it, because they take you from the harbor and for 2-3 days they are sailing around these islands..mostly nearby nice beaches and coral reef. There is a very nice beach I will hopefully see. It’s called..well…I shouldn’t say anything right now. Better later, after everything will be in the past, because this way you will be able to understand my enthusiasm.
I wanted to say that my excitement was a bit killed when I came across a website with information about all the dangerous species you can find in these tropical waters. And which words do you think were common in all descriptions of the symptoms one experiences when getting stung, touched, etc..by a poisonous animal?? I will tell you: EXCRUCIATING PAIN. No kidding! If you are in the mood, just take a look on wikipedia (I am too lazy to look for that link, maybe tomorrow) about box jellyfish, irukandji jellyfish, blue-ring octopus, lion fish, etc. Especially the jellyfish is tiny. The irukandji is at most 1 cm long, the body I mean, while the tentacles can reach 1 m. that is bloody not fair!
Luckily this on the boat there will be some sort of protection costumes, which, however, don’t cover the face area – and I saw a documentary on Discovery, where a guy died because he got stung by an irukandji on his cheek. 😀
So..just wish me luck!

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Ocean drive

On Saturday, Shannon, my flat-mate who will eventually get an entire post here, was very nice and agreed to drive with me to the Pacific coast, Bribie Island. Even though driving there, especially on Saturday can be a bit exhausting because of all the traffic in Brisbane…it was totally worth it. And I got to admit, the Pacific rose up to my high expectations. The word to best describe it is…overwhelming I guess. Coming from the tiny Black Sea to see the ocean is like moving from H&M clothes to…Tommy Hilfiger. I cannot believe what comparison I made! Sure H&M is all comfy and funky, but Tommy Hilfiger takes it to another level. It was quite weird because you cannot swim so much in the open, because of..well..many reasons: very strong currents, the water is deepening very fast and last but not least..the old bull-sharks which might be waiting for a treat.. 🙂 So I stayed close to the shore, in the beautiful waves. It was…amazing!

Again..being used to my Black Sea..my eyes were not so happy to meet the very salty water from the ocean, but I didn’t really care.

Until now I’ve seen some beaches and I started to appreciate much more what my home-town sea has to offer: wide sandy beaches (not like in .. Croatia for example, where, as beautiful as the Adriatic is, being around it doesn’t make it by far as pleasant as being on the beaches around the Black Sea; lot of stones, lot of people, lot of everything), safety (see the sharks and all other mean, even poisonous jelly-fishes you can meet well..almost at all ocean beaches) and large swimming areas (again ocean beaches are a bit short on that).
I don’t want to be misunderstood. The ocean does not compare to our small lake. And I believe if I would’ve been raised down here on the coast, I would shrug my shoulders in disgust if someone would even dare to think of comparing the ocean with that tiny lake there in Europe. But since I haven’t been raised here and since I went to high-school just 2 min away from the Black Sea, shared lot of joys and sorrow with her (in the meantime “it” has become a “her”): beers, bathes at midnight or veeery early in the morning, like 4am or so, parties, sports, wave racing (something we did when it was very cold and very cloudy outside, sometime in late autumn; wave racing is about you against the wave… ruuuuuuun!), we even shared winter evenings when outside was freezing…so, because of all those reasons and some more which I can’t think of right now, I am a bit subjective when it comes to choosing my sea over the vast ocean! 🙂

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Friday in a glass

Oooops, I did it again! Just when I was on the verge of going home, all pissed off at my day…someone whispered in my ear something about a trip to the Whitsunday Islands. Naturally, when it comes to going away (I would use here the Romanian “hai-hui”), all my antennas were re-directed, all my neuronal mechanism started to go all “tica-taca”. So I stayed and talked to some people trying to establish a plan for getting away two weekends from now. And then there was the French guy, whose name is Breece (have no idea how you spell it, it just rimes with Greece), telling me about what cool CFD simulations he did on the SCRAMJET inlet. So I got carried away. My desire of being grumpy and happy with my grumpiness disappeared like “Poofff!”. And when Thomas came and asked if I wanted to go for a pizza, I was all..yeeeey! By the way, it was the most delicious pizza I’ve ever tried. Maybe because I was hungry, but it was not too thick with all the goodies on it..MMMMmm!
And what do you think goes well with a pizza? A beer, of course! But this time I precisely remember how many tiny glasses I had. 🙂 I took some nice pictures that I thought I’d share with you.
What was cooler was that walking home from the bus station I got on Beatrice street which is, like most of the streets in Taringa suburb, veeeeery steep. The breeze coming from the city made trees shiver. It was so pleasant! I said to myself like Natalie Portman in Garden State “My hair is blowing in the wind!” and smiled. It was a very nice feeling to do some “Ueeeeeaaaaoooooo, neeeeeeaaaaoooooooooo!” with the hands spread like wings and fly downhill. 🙂

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It was Friday, what a black day!

Uffa!

Yeah, I don’t have any cool pictures, my day was…&%$^&!!!
I guess not everything can always be all lollipops and candies. The entire week I’ve been trying to wrap my head around all sorts of equations and..well..it turned out that I couldn’t get some things figured out. Bleah! It’s one of those times when the curiousity which made me start this PhD feels a bit outdated, insufficient, stupid, childish, etc. But oh well! In the spirit of momentum conservation I will keep on trying.

The cool uncool thing about today was that after I woke up I tried to kill some time waiting for a certain phone call. After the phone call, which was for me not as cheery as other times…I got dressed and prepared for the office. On the way out of the house I discovered that my iPOD did some funny stuff messing up some of the songs I had copied on it. “Oh well..a small inconvenience!” – I naively thought to myself. Then, just ouside the house, in the street, getting the first bite of a grape … I choked. The kind of choke you need someone to pat you on the back. Guess what? In the suburb where I live there are no other people!!! Together with Shannon, we are the only ones! 🙂 Seriously, there was no one on the street so I caughed and caughed for a few minutes. Luckily I didn’t miss the bus!
I safely came to the uni and was happy to taste my latte for today (I cannot not think about Carry Brashaw when I am ordering latte). So I took out the money (2 coins of 50 cents and 1 coin of 2 dollars) and guess what now? I dropped the 2 dollar coin in a drain hole. Pointless to say it was impossible to get it out. “Oh well”…AGAIN!
Theeeen I finnally got to the office. But just on the corridor I saw the guy who sits on my right in the room heading towards me. He was also looking at me so I was just preparing to say “Hello” – because I am a well behaved person, or at least I like to believe that. But, what do you know? Exactly when he was like 1m away, his eyes preferred to shift to the floor. I was a bit annoyed by that and so..hadn’t it been for my weird morning I would’ve just let it go. Buuuuuuut..I didn’t. I came very close to him and shouted in his ear “Hiiii!” Not shouted that everyone could hear me, but just enough for him to think I am a psychopath. And exactly in this instant, he is quietly sitting 1m away from me, trying to learn Python. Everybody say “Hello Jasoooooooon!” and wave!

The thing is that we know eachother, I mean..I even helped him to print some stuff. Apparently it’s not such a strong bond these days anymore…:)

I think I will skip this Friday’s beers and just crawl in my bed and ask for my mommy who is 300000000000000km away. 🙂

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Koala? Where?

At the Lone Pine Koala sanctuary, that’s where. I went there on Sunday with Arianna.
Useless tu say it was at least interesting.

Q:„So..where is this place?“
A:„Just 10 minutes drive from Taringa suburb, somewhere in the south-west of Brisbane.“
Q:„What is so spezial about this place?“
A:„Well..it’s more like a zoo, but with less animals and the biggest number of koalas in captivity.“
Q:„How many?“
A:„About 130…“
Q:„What kind of koalas?“
A:„All kinds you can meet in Australia, all ages. They have the young ones (up to 2 years old, while the longest lived koala reached 23 years in captivity; the ones living out there only make it up to 10-12) – very playful and active; the adults who look nothing more than a stoned bear..aaa..marsupial, I appologize; the mom&cub area where you can really see small koala on top of large koala; and the retiring home with grannys over 12 years old who are, remarcably, more active than the adults.“
Q:„What does a koala feed on?“
A:„Eucaliptus and nothing else.“
Q:„Don’t they drink any water?“
A:„No.“
Q:„Isn’t that weird?“
A:„Well it might be. Not sure. But that is definetely the answer to why are they so..still? It’s because eucaliptus is toxic…it kinda gets them high. And it also contains no sugar, so they don’t have so much energy.“ – That’s also why the sex is probably very boring! 🙂
Q:„You said this place is more like a zoo. What other animals are there?“
A:„Errmm..Kangaroos, wallabies (meaning smaller kangaroos and nicer I might add), dingos, Tasmanian devil, wombat, a bunch of handsome snakes, a crocodile, some sheep dogs, emu, lot of cuckatoos and other screaming birds, some huuuuge bats (they are called something like fox-bat or so…Geeee! I wonder why?! They were just hangin’) and..other stuff that I forgot.“
Q:„Something special about any of these God-given-creatures?“
A:„Mmm..no. Oh, wait. The Tasmanian devil can eat the equivalent of their body mass, around 12 kilos or so. And they are not big. Nor scarry. Just bigger rats. And..the wombat looks like a weasel, but is actually a disguised koala. It lives underground. The dingo didn’t look so dangerous. Was expecting more! And..the koalas make ugly noises when they mate. Some sort of snorrs.“
Q:„Would you recommend the place?“
A:„Definetely! Except fort he ridiculously expensive food, it’s awesome! You can sit somewhere in a field and read and the kangaroos and wallabies are coming to you out of curiousity or something. It’s more like a nature park, not like any zoo I’ve seen in Europe. The koalas are sitting in trees and there is just a 1.20m fence around them..nothing else. You are not allowed to touch them or jump the fence of course, but they feel very close. The other biting animals are, of course, kept somewhere behind a higher fence. Everything is relaxing, because the place is in an unaltered nature. So yeah, go there!“
Q:„All right so..thank you for your time!“
A:„:)“

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Saturday – resting day

Resting in the sense that I didn’t go like crazy somewhere. But I did go to a mall to buy some short trousers. Yeah right, of course I ended up buying some hippie colorful ones and some reddish „make love not war“ skirt. But I got used to those deviations. 🙂
I did however find some very ..well..abstract or…inspiring „piece of art“ at the train station: two old sneakers in a Footlocker brand new bag and box.
And..the second thing, I got to see the city center by night, because I was invited to eat the most delicious spaghetti bolognese (they were actually tagliatelle) and the previously mentioned Apfelstrudel. It’s maybe just as fascinating to see the city by night as it is by day. The thing which was very pregnant is that the bars are quite loud. I guess the people here have another notion of party…NICE! 😀

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