Better than a slap in the face with a wet fish…


(PLEASE NOTE:  the above link will only work in Chrome or updated version of Firefox and Safari….you can tell if your browser is not current if you see the link instead of the audio player…e-mail me and I can send you the file)

(ALSO:  there are multiple songs in this media file feel free to skip through them as you like….lots of mixed Aussie sounds.)

The beginnings of construction…

Thursday morning (06.22.12) had a slow start.  Curt and I were supposed to go into the city to order supplies for the tripod stand, but we had to wait for materials to be delivered before we could go…and then of course we had to wait until “smoko” was over.  Smoko is short for “smokeout” and is the term used for morning and afternoon break.  Luckily with the modern age pretty much nobody smokes and instead meets in a room and has a “cuppa” (cup of tea), and vegemite crackers and biscuits

vegemite…”love it or hate it”

.  I have been taking smoko with the mechanical engineering workshop tradesmen off and on for the last two weeks and enjoy listening to their round circle discussions on politics, university small-talk, and family life.  Some of the men bring in their ceramic teapots and fill them up at the “boiling billy” settling into the smoko room as their tea steeps.  Traditions like this are great, I am not sure to what extent Americans have breaks like this because I have never really worked in an environment with built in breaks.  I know they exist, but I am pretty sure nobody brings their own tea set to accompany the time.  This is a great way to build commraderie, friendship, and take a little pressure off of the demands of the work schedule.

After smoko Curt and I jumped in a JCU truck and made our first stop at his brothers auto yard.  The auto yard consisted of hundreds of car entrails filed and organized in specific sections, cars that were slowly sinking into the earth and being covered by leacherous vines, and cars that were so old their spokes were made from wood.  The cars that had the wooden spokes

Wooden spokes, rims, and original wheel from 1920’s.

were mostly from the 1920’s and had sadly not been covered and were piled on top of each other.  The pile of wooden rims and chassies had lost their characteristics, traits, and stories.  Imagine these cars the day they were released and the excitement of finally trading in your horse for this bizarre metallic machine with four round legs.  Turning the car on instead of kicking your stirrups and using your harness and hearing the roar of its heart come to life and then throttling down the road and dipping into the puddles and swinging around the towns people while the eucalyptus trees zoomed by at 24 mph…what a rush…watch out for the wallabies.

Curt’s nephew showed me where to locate the catalytic converter

Catalytic converter underneath car.

and stated that most people do not know that they are worth hundreds of dollars due to the rare metals that they contain.  Curt’s brother asked me if I wanted to see what “real engineers” do and quickly

Old Car Body with Teaset

Only in Australia would you find an abandoned old car with a tea set neatly tucked inside.

demonstrated a little PVC pipe machine he had built and launched a tennis ball hundreds of yards with an incredibly loud BOOM across the lifeless cars that lay below.  I left the lot with a smile on my face because sometimes a day has so many unexpected events and interesting people you meet. 

Curt and I slowly made our way to the steel tubing store where I brought out my specs and then debated for almost 20 minutes with Curt before we both agreed on tubing and r.h.s (rectangular hollow steel) sizes.  The prototype cost came to about $186 Australian dollars (equivalent to U.S. dollars) and will be ready for pick up next week Monday (June 25, 2012).  (The total cost of the finalized project will be more expensive because we plan to use aluminum…pronounced al-you-min-ium)

A secondary project I am working on is with David in the wind tunnel.  At the moment we are attempting to see how accurate the anemometer is and if the data it is collecting correlates to the data the instruments in the wind tunnel are collecting.  Here is a super short video that shows the inside of the wind tunnel and the anemometer on its first trial.  (David and I were really surprised to see how much the anemometer was yawing back and forth…this is the first time the station can actually observe the amount of turbulence in the internal boundary.

As cunning as a dunny rat….

I returned back to campus late and missed lunch so I mosied over for a quick bite at one of the cafes.  I saw a beautiful bird that looked like the North American Kingfisher (kookaburra bird) sitting on a sign and took a picture of it.  Later on while I was still eating I noticed three of the same birds posted in a very close proximity to me.  I kept on eating and then out of nowhere there was a crash on my plate and the Kookaburra was sitting on part of the pizza I broke off.  I screamed out of surprise and he turned his head and stared at me with his wee beady eye as if he was challenging me.  He did not flinch when I moved my arms and instead kept staring.  He then pierced my pizza with his beak and flew off with the entire thing back to his post.  He then whacked the pizza over and over on the post and my pizza flew in every direction and all of the toppings fell off in a complete mess around him.  At this point the entire family started feeding.  I sat there in complete shock and unfortunately did not take a picture of the crazy scene.  As if this wasn’t enough after the family fed they stayed very close to me as if I was going to procure their second helping at any moment.  I left the café hungry and kookaburra defeated…this songs really goes with their demeanor.

Kookaburra that stole my lunch….looking at me for more pizza…

Kookaburra song:

“Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Merry merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,
Gay your life must be!

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Eating all the gum drops he can see.
Stop Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra
Save some there for me!

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Counting all the monkeys he can see.
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra
That’s not a monkey, that’s me!”

Gobsmacked (awestruck) in Paluma…

 Jenny (great runner and friend of Cam’s) picked me up Friday afternoon to start our journey towards Paluma.  We made a quick stop to pick up food supplies and

Paluma Winter Waters

were off to the cloud forest.  It was extremely hard for me to sit in the car knowing I could have biked to our final destination, but Cam and Jenny thought it would be better if drove because of the 11 mile narrow up hill mountain I would have had to climb.

We arrived early enough to see the sights and walk around before nightfall.

Paluma is a very small town located in a national rain forest with multiple waterfalls and great little hikes all around.  That evening we went to Gumbarra to listen to an informal

Clouds caught in a web in Paluma

music fest where the members from the Wattle n’ Gum group played anything they wanted to while Jim made delicious waffles and gluhwein (warm mulled wine).  The majority of the music was traditional Australian folk tunes that you hopefully listened to while reading this little blog.  There are hints of jazz, blues, bluegrass, and good ol’ country music.  One person after another played songs and people joined in, took breaks, and sang when they knew the words.  Leoni came over to me and started playing the very well known American folk tunes and sadly I knew none of them.  She was very sad about this and I attempted to memorize one of the ones she sang to me called “In the Pines.”  Coincidentally after researching this song I came across Nirvana’s rendition…go figure.  The night was amazing I love stringed instruments and songs with stories.

Wattle N’ Gum Bush Band Crew

The Wattle n’ Gum crew are a little upset because they have no young members and are not sure as to what the future of this music will be.

Saturday I went on multiple rainforests walks and managed to find an amazing rock to sit on and read my book.  The views from where I sat were of the Palm Islands and Magnetic Islands in the distance.  Each time I walked through the small streets of Paluma there was music coming from the cottages

View from “reading rock”

and people singing.  I joined in at Cam’s cottage and sang and listened to all of the music.  I sat down with Jenny and learned how to play a bit on the ukulele and Sue (Cam’s wife) showed me how to use an accordion (I REALLY  REALLY like the accordion).  Saturday evening was the fancy bush dance where I danced for almost three hours straight.  I learned all of the Australian folk dances that went with the songs and danced in groups and with Peter (another Road

Camouflaged roots in Paluma…sneaky little things.

Runner I run with on Thursday’s mornings) the whole night.  As if all the music and dancing wasn’t enough after the festivities were over they continued back at Gumburra again while Jim brought out the waffle iron and warmed up the wine.  I am so happy that I recognize the faces of the group and have already had the privilege of meeting everyone.  I felt very welcomed and part of the Wattle n’ Gum family…what a great weekend.

Peter drove me back very early Sunday morning to meet Chris at the airport. (hurray!!  Chris will be joining me for my last 3 weeks while he does research in the marine biology department on algae and its potential use as a bio-fuel).  Chris missed his connection in Brisbane to Townsville so I went to the city centre and bought some weird fun fruit as a welcome.  It is great to have Chris here to share some of the great experiences and people I have already had and met.  Unfortunately he was unable to bring his bike, but the amazing Cam has pulled through and will giving him one to use shortly!

Sue, Cam, and Jim practicing for the Bush Dance and have’n a hoot.

Boil-Over (unexpected sporting result)….

JCU Saints Rugby (gold and blue jersey)

I have to quickly mention the rugby game Chris and I saw on Sunday afternoon at JCU.  The rowdy JCU Saints played all day and won their matches.  I have to say I did not really get into the JCU Saints Rugby team (in the gold and yellow jerseys)e match or attempt to learn the rules, but it was great to hear the intensity of the crowd and sit outside on the overcast afternoon with the eucalypts in the air…I also concluded that sports are much more fun to watch than play…although soccer has its momentsJ  The boil-over for me is the result of not liking the experience as much as I imagined.  The “state of origin” which is the biggest game in Australia (if you ask an Aussie they will say in the world)  kind of the superbowl of rugby is next week.  I will try very hard to like rugby by then.



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