Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Videos from Lizard Island

Two videos from my recent Lizard Island field trip:
1. Underwater Snorkel Footage
2. Mass Coral Spawning

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Treats for anyone who still comes to this blog...

I have been on Heron Island for the last 5 weeks running my experiments, TAing some courses, and living the island life. A couple weeks ago a few reporters from the Courier Mail came up to the island and took some pictures. Here's the article that appeared in last Sunday's Courier Mail (Nov. 11, 2007):

Also, it's Movember, and all of Australia has joined in the cause. I am participating as well (see below):

I'm almost done here, then back to Brisbane for a week, and then up to Lizard Island (far north Great Barrier Reef) for the coral spawning. Hopefully the cameras will be rolling and we can make some Monkey Magic.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Nation’s Capital: Canberra

This past week I visited Canberra as part of my scholarship program, and had the opportunity to meet the American Ambassador to Australia. We also sat in on an incredibly raucous Parliament session, where the two parties insulted each other like schoolboys and some members were ultimately ejected from the floor. If only the American congress operated like that, politics would be a lot more fun.

After being wined and dined for a few days we traveled up to the Blue Mountains for some hiking (and atonement), before heading to Sydney and then back home. I posted some pictures from the weekend on picasa. Check them out here…

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I exposed myself to Brisbane art/culture

I’ve become friends with a bunch of Mexicans here (who knew I would be practicing my Spanish in Australia?), and over the weekend we went to an art gallery opening in The Valley. There were free drinks, free food, and a live band, and all the exhibits involved “Gray Water.” One black-tiled room was empty except for 6 bubble-making machines mounted to the ceiling, blowing bubbles onto the ground. A sign outside the room read, “The water inside was used to clean bodies in a Mexican morgue. Enter at own health risk.” I went inside, but covered my wine glass so no corpse-bubbles floated in. In another room a movie was being projected, in which naked Thai teenagers were linked together underwater in a sphere, and kept breathing with SCUBA support. In less interactive rooms I saw poison bottles melted into the floor amidst fluorescent lighting, and photographs depicting mannequin heads floating in small crater lakes. All in all, extremely Grey Water.

In other artistic news, The Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) was a few weeks ago, and I saw a bunch of great films for obscenely high ticket prices. The highlight was going to see “All My Friends are Leaving Brisbane” with Ben, which turned out to be a Brisbane version of “Garden State” meets “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Unbeknownst to us, it was the world premier, so all the tickets were sold out. However an old grandma-aged lady was scalping tickets outside, so we bought two from her, and made our way inside. The directors and actors were all there, which was fun, and it was interesting to see familiar Brisbane places in the movie. The take home message: All my friends are leaving Brisbane. Ben identifies with this message, but I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet. Thursday is Mexican Independence Day, so I’ll see most of my new amigos there.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

RiverFest Explosions

I’ve never seen fireworks like this before. In honor of the 10th annual Brisbane River Festival (which celebrates the Brisbane River), self-congratulatory fireworks were set off last Friday night. What made these fireworks special was the depth/levels – they were shooting these things off from the river in front of us, a bridge downriver on the right, a bridge upriver on the left, and from the tops of 5 buildings across the river in the Brisbane skyline. As always, I took some poor video of the event until my camera battery died.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

PART ONE in our new five part series, “Better Know a Brisbane Home Team!”

Tonight’s Home Team: The Brisbane Roar!

Brisbane’s very own soccer team, the Brisbane Roar, plays at the brand new Suncorp Stadium right outside the downtown area. A short walk from the West End, we headed over Saturday night to see the opening game of the soccer league’s third season. Tickets were only $15, and the beer literally came out of a conveyor belt – it felt like a Ford assembly line. Brisbane was playing the team from Adelaide, and ultimately tied with a final score of 2-2. It was great fun for the whole family (lots of kids there), and I took some poor video of the event.

The video includes a number of disappointing moments, a few missed goals, angry comments from British/Australian fans, and then finally the celebration for a Brisbane goal not captured on camera. Stay tuned for PARTS TWO, THREE, FOUR, AND FIVE...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Vote Jorge!

I apologize for the non-Australia related post, but this is important. Jorge Vega (a friend of mine from Creative Arts at Park) is one of the THREE FINALISTS in the 2007 Comic Book Challenge. It’s like the American Idol of comic book creators, and the winner gets his idea made into a comic book/Hollywood movie. You can go check out his pitch here, and vote for Jorge!! Voting is quick and easy, and his idea is very original – think vampire story in the Wild West…with no vampires. Vote Jorge!

VOTING ENDS AUGUST 25TH! (aka August 26th in Australia)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My neighbor has disappeared and is wanted by the police

24 hours after inviting Ben (my British roommate) and I over for a drink, our neighbor was apparently admitted to a hospital (for unknown reasons), escaped, and is now wanted by the police. No further details.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I survived Ekka!

For the past few weeks Brisbane has been hosting Ekka! - the annual Queensland Exhibition/Agricultural Fair/Carnival. Farmers bring all their prize-winning animals and vegetables down to the city for judging, and there are fireworks and fashion shows! Lots of meat on display.

Everyone who mentions Ekka warns against the “Ekka Flu,” the “Ekka Cough,” or the “Ekka Death Virus.” I assumed this was just a running joke among the city dwellers, but upon arriving at Ekka I was immediately handed a package of sanitizer wipes and reminded to “wash my hands with soap and water” before leaving. Turns out people have actually died at Ekka due to unsanitary conditions.

My first stop: A fashion runway showcasing the wonders of Queensland wool and leather. My favorite quote is, "she's just made the most perfect use of the swimsuit design."

Then: Watch a sheep being sheared! (Fittingly on the same stage that just hosted the wool parade. How Memento-ish.)

I actually haven’t eaten meat since arriving in Australia. It’s been about a month, and I’ll try to keep it going all year. Here's a nice picture from the “MEATing Centre” that sums up my vegetarian motivations…

Afterwards I made it over to the Woolworth’s Fresh Food Market and watched a demonstration on “fun wth semi-dried tomatoes” and “the secrets of bee keeping.” On my way back I checked out the animals, and took this video of a man standing atop two horses and cracking whips.

Then the Big Fashion Show Extravaganza that was AMAZING – a legitimate Australian project runway in a big theater – but they didn’t allow photography. I got yelled at for trying to take a video.

All in all, it was a great day at the Ekka (and so far no need to dip into my secret stash of American antibiotics).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Cereal was “Seized and Destroyed” by the Australian Government

My favorite cereal is Banana Nut Crunch, and last spring when I stopped being able to find it in supermarkets, I did some investigating and found they were discontinuing the product in California. I panicked and immediately ordered a case of Banana Nut Crunch from (pack of 8). Soon I left for Australia, and most of the boxes remained at home in Boston.

Mom loves to send packages. I received her first one (since being in Australia) last week, and inside was this note:

"The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) has determined that items addressed to you, send by mail from The United States, were imported or introduced into Australia in contravention of the Quarantine Act 1908 and, in the Authorized Quarantine Officer’s opinion, the items are likely to introduce exotic pests or diseases into Australia.

“This is a notice to inform you that the items, 2 x pkt of Banana Nut Crunch with dried banana, will be seized and destroyed. Where possible, AQIS offers clients the opportunity to have items treated to remove quarantine risks. However, due to the specific risks presented by the items sent to you, treatment is not possible.”

The most amazing part is that the package (with the remaining items) was completely unopened when I received it, with no visible signs of tampering. Keep in mind my mother taped every edge of the box shut, wrapped the box with brown paper bags from Whole Foods, taped those shut, and then taped the address labels on top of that. To inspect the package and seize the BNC without any sign of disturbance the Authorized Quarantine Officer must have employed David Blaine street magic because that was freaking impossible. Amazing.

How will they destroy the Banana Nut Crunch? I hope they eat it – don’t let it go to waste! It may be the last of its kind!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Shire

Man this was good. Walk outside the house, what do I hear? It's music. It's a soul jam band coming from hwere/? Coming from a blcok away. I walk over there and they're jamming! I took some video which came out black, but you can hear the music@ it was great. literally, the best chai tea i've ever had. people dancing, eating, drinking, all sorts of gooide times. and the band was smoking! take a listen. my man take a listen. who's horton hears a who? my friends this place is great!@ i'm so glad to have it so nearBy - uyou can hear it from the house! listen to the music...

love josh

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Roommate Pictures

Chris from Germany

Ben from England

And with the cat, who bizarrely comes with the name "titty"

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sexist Australian Ads

In bwhaley’s famous blog, “A White Boy in Japan,” he often posted photos of Japanese advertisements that didn’t quite make sense in English. This has inspired me to begin an advertising segment of my own, in which I showcase the many chauvinistic Australian ads I’ve been encountering. They’re kind of amazing in their overtness. These first few ads are copies from the Internet – I didn’t have my camera with me when I saw them. I will be more vigilant in the future.

STA Travel
Originally an Australian company; it used to stand for “Student Travel Australia.” These ads are everywhere in Brisbane. And it really speaks for itself… (click to enlarge)

Australian Army
There’s a whole series of these Angelina Jolie recruitment ads – kind of a sexy take-off of Uncle Sam’s “I want you.” My question: what is she holding, and, more importantly, whose shoes are those?? Are they stepping on her?

Today I saw an ad for Boost Juice (an Australian smoothie bar) where a girl was holding a banana to her face, and the caption read, “It was good for me, was it good for you?” It didn’t make sense to me at all, and the banana was disturbingly phallic.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I fell into a fire pit

Last week I got invited to a house party by Tom, an honours student in my department, and on Saturday night went over to Dutton Park for the festivities. It was a house-warming party thrown by Tom and his roommates, one of whom I had randomly sat next to at a not-so-interesting talk on Cicadas. Turns out many of the people there had been at the Cicada talk too, so all night we were shouting, "CICADAS!" and imitating Cicada calls.

Anyway, the night got longer, one thing led to another, some girls put eye-liner on me, and eventually I fell into the bonfire/firepit. Not really a great story. It kind of hurt.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


This weekend marked the end of The Queensland Music Festival here in Brisbane, and on Friday night I went to Battle City 6, a break dancing competition underneath a highway overpass. I took some video clips with my digital camera - check them out below. It was really the coolest dancing I'd ever seen.

There was only one girl breakdancer (the one wearing orange overalls), and I thought she was very cute. Also cute was the crew made up entirely of pre-teen boys (one of them dances first), who were amazingly good breakdancers. The crew from America ended up winning, beating a local crew from Brisbane. Where was Sway?

Friday, July 27, 2007

I got locked out

So yesterday morning I get out of bed and I am preparing to go to University at 9am for a crash course on R (a statistical software package). As I'm getting dressed, I check my phone and there's a text-message from German roommate Chris, "Hey josh. could you place both yellow and gray bins at the street? i forgot it. cheers" And while I am taking the trash/recycling bins to the street (in my boxers) the door slams behind me and I'm locked out. It's 8:30.

I have three options:
1. Break in
2. Call a locksmith
3. Wait for Chris to come home

There's no way I'm waiting around all day on the porch (in my boxers) for Chris, so I try to break in. The doors are all locked, and all the easily accessible windows have metal bars on them (the houses in the area all have barred windows - I guess because we're in the city). I go around to the backyard and think, "What would Jack Conte do?" My plan is to shimmy up the drain pipe, swing my leg onto the concrete ledge, hoist myself onto the back porch, and hope the door to the kitchen is unlocked (see attached photo). Also, I'm barefoot and in boxer shorts.

So I make it to the top of the drain pipe, when suddenly it detaches and gets pulled out from the concrete wall by about a foot. I panic, and fireman-style slide down the pole to the ground below. Option #2 seems nice right now, and I go next door. The couple are old Greek grandparents who have been living in the house since 1952. I call a locksmith and then have tea with them (in my boxers) for 30 minutes while talking about how the neighborhood used to be. Apparently, in the good old days everyone on the street was either Greek, Italian, or Turkish. Also, "do Americans really buy their children breast implants for birthdays?" I said, "only in Los Angeles," and they nodded knowingly.

The locksmith came, opened the door in 30 seconds, I paid him a rediculous sum of money, biked to UQ, and made the last 15 minutes of the Stat lecture (the only part that mattered). I told Chris we should hide a spare key somewhere from now on, but he was worried about security issues.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A toothless woman chased me

I bought a bike, which is great. Now, instead of taking the bus to the University, I can just bike across the river (it's 15 minutes door to door). But last night, as I was biking across the queen st. bridge, a toothless woman started chasing me. She was too young to be toothless from old age - this was a scary, young toothless woman. Anyway, she ran next to me for a while laughing like a crazed toothless woman does, and shouting obscenities. She couldn't keep up for long though, and I escaped.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

25 Blakeney St.

First post first post first post!

I arrived in Brisbane last Tuesday morning, bought a cell phone, and began looking for an apartment. I saw three places that afternoon, and they were as follows:

1) "Korean Tenement" - A student house run by an old hippie woman, containing a large number of sick korean boys eating chicken soup out of large pots and playing first-person shooters on their computers. Add to that, general squalor and the fact that the room would not be ready for 2 weeks. Solution? I would be staying in old hippie woman's son's bed until korean boy #3 moved out. Also, very far away from things. Too far. Rating: 1/2 star, and that's generous.

2) "German beach house" - As soon as I saw this house, I thought "beautiful, cute, and clean." Living here is a german guy named Chris and a british guy named Ben. They are looking for a third roommate, and the house is really freaking nice. Tall ceilings, wooden floors, open spaces, very well lit, amazing kitchen, and a little second-floor balcony overlooking a park. The guys seem really nice and laid back and clean, and the stove looks good. 4 gas burners! Rating: 4 stars

3) "Greek love nest" - opposite a greek orthodox church, here lives Gemma and her boyfriend Tim. However Tim is moving to Canberra because he got a sweet ass job, leaving Gemma behind, so she needs a new roommate. The room is big with high ceilings, has a nice big futon, and both Gemma and Tim are really really nice. But in general, the house is much less beautiful than the German beach house, and Gemma is hot. So...not really an option.


I moved into the German beach house on Thursday, and it's great. Interesting note: Since telling hippie woman I wouldn't be moving into the asian death-trap she has shown up at my new house unannouced to "see where I'm living," invited herself in, and taken a self-guided tour. Following that, she has called me three (3) times to make sure I don't want to change my mind, and "do I know any other boys who are looking for places to rent."