Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2 Weeks Behind Again...but having a blast in Adelaide

Last time I posted I had just gone to the barbecue with CMU kids.  That night we had also gone to a nightclub and so I became friends with Abhi, Srini, and LaCole.  That week we hung out for dinner/drinks a couple of times.
That Saturday (the 9th) was the Lunar New Year so the Chinese students threw a huge party.  A big part off it was dumplings!  After watching some of the students make dumplings for a bit, they invited me to try.  It's not nearly as easy as it looks!  You have to get the right amount of stuffing in the wrappers and they're hard to seal!  By the end of the night, my dumplings were almost as good as the ones made by the Chinese students!  I was  pretty proud of myself.  It was also sort of a potluck and a bunch of the students brought dishes that were native.  Chinese Chinese food and American Chinese food are very different.  I think I like the Americanized version just a little better.

Then, Sunday morning LaCole, Srini, Abhi and I got up early and rented a car to go wine tasting in the Barossa Valley.  It's only about an hour away and there are a ton of vineyards around.  Our first stop was Jacob's Creek.  They had some really nice wines and I bought a bottle of Fiano.  We also had a nice lunch out on the patio.  About halfway through lunch a huge gust of wind came across and knocked out all of the lounge chairs and some of the chairs that were at the other tables.  It was crazy.  Our wine, food, and my camera survived so all was well.  After lunch we visited 3 or 4 other places including one that had an AMAZING cider.  We bought a case of it and split up the 6-packs.  It was a really awesome day.
LaCole, Abhi, and I before our lunch came

Abhi and Srini

All the wines we tasted at Jacob's Creek

Abhi in front of a huge cask at another vineyard

All 4 of us at Jacob's Creek

Srini, LaCole and I

With Abhi instead of me.

The next week was pretty uneventful.  I joined a gym and got 3 free Kickstart training sessions which were pretty good.  I've since signed up to train with Michael regularly.  He tells me I'm doing "Heaps good" and is all about giving me an "ass whoopin'"  He's really funny though and is keeping things interesting and different so it's all good.

Since I became friends with Abhi, LaCole, and Srini, they started inviting me out to do stuff all week. Tuesday we went for cheap "fancy" pizza.  $8 for what's normally $18-20 seems good to me.  On Mondays it's $6 and apparently that's the regular day to go.  We also checked out Duke, a bar/club on Currie St. and Balcony Bar which is right on King William.  It's nice to finally have people to go out with and hang out with.  Abhi lives at Urbanest too, so it's suuuper convenient.

Since everyone started turning in homework, I was really busy last week.  The students here are spoiled compared to in Pittsburgh.  They whine much more about grades and argue for every little point.  It's very unbecoming.  They also don't really respect the concept of office hours.  I have specific time set aside for each of the classes to answer questions/clarify etc.  Most of the time, very few people come during those times but they'll show up at any other time of the day.  It's distracting and when I tell them I'm busy they ignore me and sit down anyway.  They're going to be in for a huge shock when they get to Pittsburgh...

Then, this weekend was super hot.  It was in the high 90s all weekend.  On Friday was the Fringe Parade opening "4 weeks of Frivolity and Fun"  Basically performers of all sorts have shows going on every single night.  It's a boho/hipster/artsy-fartsy kind of a thing but there are music acts and comedians and dance troupes and all other things.  The parade was quite ridiculous, lots of costumes and fun.  After the parade we went out to check out a bunch of the opening night parties which were not as wild as we thought.  However, there is a park that gets converted into "The Garden of Unearthly Delights" and across the street another that this year is called "Gluttony".  We wandered around Gluttony and they had a silent dance party which was totally wild.  The way it works is you pay $10 for a set of headphones and then you dance.  Everybody is listening to the same thing but to the observer it's mostly silent.  It sounded like the most ridiculous thing ever but it was actually awesome!  After LaCole went home, Abhi and I stopped for gelato for the walk home.

Saturday I spent all day on campus and then came home and tried to make homemade buffalo sauce.  It didn't taste like the real thing at all and I was really disappointed.  I had a quiet night in after the frivolity of Friday night.  Sunday was ungodly hot as well, easily 99-100 so I mostly hid out in the aircon.  I did laundry and showered twice because it was so hot.  I then met up with a new friend at a coffee shop and we ended up wandering around the Garden of Unearthly Delights.  It was really cool!  I need to go back with my camera.

Today I spent ALL day grading the databases assignments and I'm barely halfway through.  It's going to be an exhausting day tomorrow.  Hopefully I can get them all done. 

No weekend plans just yet, although Saturday night is Jon's 21st birthday party.

Monday, February 4, 2013

It's the Superbowl?

People here don't watch American Football but Facebook and Twitter are blowing up with posts about the Ravens and 49ers so I know it's happening.  I tried to watch the livestream but CBS figured out I'm not in the US so it was blocked.  Not that I cared that much, but no Superbowl for me.  I am in search of Buffalo Wings here though.  So far, I don't think they exist.  I found a recipe for homemade buffalo sauce here and I think I can find all of these ingredients at the grocery store.

Anyway, this weekend was good.  Friday night I had a quiet night in and watched TV in the Media Room with a couple of the other people living at the nest.  Saturday morning I woke up and went to campus to teach my recitations.  Apparently that's a CMU word, everyone else knows them as Review Sessions.  The morning class was Stats for IT Managers and there's almost 50 people in that class so I felt like I was shouting the entire time so that the people in the back of the room could hear me.  We reviewed the stats software Minitab, Microsoft Word's Equation Editor and did some sample Probability questions.  In the afternoon was Empirical Methods for Policy.  The policy students are not numerically inclined.  It took them much longer to get through the Minitab tutorial and using the Equation Editor.  I had to rush through the last 5 minutes of graphing in excel because we were so far behind.  It's annoying that these review sessions were scheduled for Saturdays all semester, it's going to hinder my ability to take weekend trips...  I can probably make things work to go away Sunday-Monday or even Sunday-Tuesday occasionally since I don't have anything going on on Mondays or Tuesdays, I just have to plan it ahead.

Saturday night the CMU kids that live at Urbanest hosted a barbecue which was super fun.  Lots of people, including folks that don't live there came by and I got a chance to get to know them and hang out with them rather than standing in front of a classroom talking at them.  We had a really good time.  After we cleaned up, the handful of us that were still around went to a nightclub around the corner, Swish. It was a lot of fun and it was nice to not be on my own on Saturday night again.

Yesterday I slept in and then took the tram to Glenelg, the beach town.  I spent a couple of hours reading my book on the sand and then walked around the town.  When I got back, I had a quick dinner and hung out in the media room.  Ric was watching Cricket and explained the basics of the game to me.  It's not that complicated, especially when it's on in the background because he was able to point stuff out as it was happening.  I did laundry and hung out with people in the media room.  Australian tv is a weird mix of American TV shows and movies, "Australian-ized TV shows" like Four Weddings Australia, and Australian TV shows.

Today I'm hanging out on campus.  This afternoon I'm administering a databases exemption exam.