Saturday, February 28, 2009


Today is the first anniversary of my return to Sydney after more than six years in the U.S. and then the U.K. It feels good to be settling down, especially in the place that feels like home.

It's also good that I've avoided taking any flights in that time, after travelling a lot in the time I lived in England. While I enjoyed seeing so many European cities (particularly when work was paying!), I was rather sick of Manchester airport by the end of 2007. Today I celebrate a full year without jet lag, carbon footprint guilt, aviation security checks or economy class seating.

Monday, February 9, 2009

25 Random Things

I'm putting this Facebook game on my regular blog, so it will end up in both places. And I won't tag anybody, in flagrant contradiction of the rules.

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.

1. I meditate twice a day, half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening.

2. I spent a year living in a small isolated town in the middle of the American southwest and really enjoyed it.

3. I hold a physics Ph.D. I was in Year 21 of continuous full time education by the time I finished.

4. I used to be a dual Australian and American citizen, as my Dad hails from the U.S.

5. I renounced my U.S. citizenship in April 2007, for a number of reasons:
a. I wanted to be sure for myself which country I would call home
b. It meant that I didn't have to keep filing US tax returns when I didn't even live there
c. It eliminated the temptation of joining the American military-industrial complex

6. 5.c was a distinct possibility for the intersection of 2. and 3.

7. I'm irritated by imprecise or inaccurate statements. If I stumble over my words in conversation, it usually means that I'm proofreading a comment in my head.

8. I'm irritated by buzzwords. For example, when writing about the current economy and commodity markets at work, I'm careful to avoid the word "unprecedented."

9. Apparently I'm not irritated by Facebook fads.

10. I've been to the tops of the highest mountains in each of England, Scotland and Wales. In only 1 of those 3 cases was I able to admire the view from the top.

11. I once travelled from 1398m to 3287m and back again in one day, entirely under my own power (cycling and walking).

12. I had a game published in the New South Wales Junior Chess magazine. I checkmated with a pawn following a sound double rook sacrifice.

13. I was a contributor to the second edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Astronomy.

14. My eyes are mostly blue, but each has a pale yellow ring on the inner edge of the iris.

15. I'm not into cars. The only one I've ever owned was a ten year old Honda Civic.

16. My colds almost always follow a set pattern: sore throat for 1-2 days, then blocked nose for 1-2 weeks.

17. I try to find patterns or memorable digit strings in phone numbers. For example, my current phone number is 0450, then 449 (1 less than 450), then 137 (the fine structure constant). I had some input into my mobile phone number in the US, and managed to have it finish in 2718 (the exponential constant).

18. I have an urge to pat the head or scratch the ears of every dog I see. It's a struggle not to do this to the drug-sniffing beagles at Sydney airport.

19. In fact, my first word was "Dog", pronounced "Gog".

20. I sometimes hum the theme from "Skippy" while cooking kangaroo meat.

21. Living in the UK for a year and a half helped me to appreciate ales as opposed to lagers. Then I moved back to Australia and realised that I'd turned into a beer snob.

22. I once helped to make a snow-alien, using pine cones for its oversized extraterrestrial eyes.

23. Other than sport, I rarely watch TV.

24. I don't mind train noise but do mind aircraft noise, even if the decibel level is the same. I must be some sort of noise pollution Luddite.

25. Also, I didn't take a plane flight until I was 22.