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Published: September 28th 2011
Hello again from the Land Down Under! Last week, I left off with the fact that I was settling in here at Perth and beginning my first week of work in the lab. Now I have been here for over two weeks and am feeling quite adjusted to everything but the cold weather! Yes, it still is freezing cold here! At night, it is getting down to around 4'C, and I have four covers on my bed to keep warm. Apparently, this weather is very unusual for this time of year and everyone here is just as disgruntled about it as me.
That being said, this past weekend the weather cleared up for the afternoon and I was able to make it over to Fremantle for the day. Fremantle is a historical port city south of Perth; it's mostly used for barges bringing in goods from Asia but there are also several cruise ships that dock there. To get there, I had about an hour-long train ride, and along the way, I ended up meeting another American who was traveling Australia (we're very easy to identify because of our accents!). We got to talking and we eventually ended up having
lunch together over in Fremantle and doing a bit of sightseeing before we parted ways. After we said goodbye, I decided to head over to the Fremantle Prison for their classic "Doing Time" tour. An interesting fact: Much of the city of Perth was actually built by convicts shipped over from Great Britain. Back in the 1800s, Britain was trying to populate the western region of Australia, but no one was really staying there, so they started using it as a place to ship convicts and force them to do labour details. Hence, almost all the old buildings constructed in the city of Fremantle were built by prisoners, including the prison itself. The prison is the largest convict-built prison in the Southern Hemisphere. Although it stopped functioning as an actual prison in 1991, it has since been converted into a tour that walks you through what prison life was like throughout various points in history.
Now that you are probably bored out of your minds with my history lesson, I'll tell you what the actual tour was like! Have you ever seen the movie The Shawshank Redemption? Well, it was basically exactly like that. There was "the Yard," guard
towers, razor barbed wire fencing, and four stories of jail cells stacked on top of each other. They even showed us the solitary confinement cells- not a place I would like to be for even one minute, let alone 48 hours! All in all, it was a very interesting tour and one that made me appreciate the fact I am not nor hopefully ever will be a convict!
After I left the prison, I headed over to the harbor. It was getting to be late in the day, so a lot of the boats were docking. Unlike the beaches north of Perth (which I have only driven by as of now and seem to be the stereotypical crystal-blue sand beaches), the water at Fremantle actually reminds me a lot of the Atlantic. It's a bit rougher and isn't a place you would want to go swimming in! I walked around by the water for awhile, then decided it was time to catch the train back to Perth. I'm hoping to get back to Fremantle at some point in the near future because I didn't make it over to the chocolate factory (yum!) or the shopping district.
work, life in the lab is going smoothly and I am getting a good start on the project. I have spent most of this week programming the task and working out all the little bugs. I should be ready for pilot testing by Friday, which means I'm making good time! In any free time I have at work, I've been working on analyzing some data that I gathered this summer back in St. Catharines and editing a paper I am working on with a student in China. Last Friday, the lab had our big Discovery Channel filming day! We really had no idea what was expected of us and assumed that they would largely be filming Gill (the professor who runs the lab); however, they ended up wanting to film the whole lab! I have newfound respect for those who work in the film industry. We had to do about 3 hours of filming just to get a useable 10 minutes. It was all very professional (the Discovery Channel doesn't mess around!) and we had to do take after take until the filmmakers were happy with it. The documentary is about facial attractiveness and ethnicity, and it should air at
some point next Spring.
Outside of the lab and traveling on the weekend, I've been enjoying living with Therese (my landlord) and Stefan (the German exchange student) as well as with cats Ginger and Zorro. I've learned that apparently all of Perth shuts down on Sundays...a fact that no one told me until I walked the 30-minute trek down to the grocery store this past Sunday and found the place completely deserted. Well, I suppose that's a lie because the liquor store and casino were open...apparently, one is only allowed to satisfy one's vices on Sundays, not complete any actual errands, haha.
A terrible event happened last night in the house, which in retrospect is funny. Therese and I were sitting on the couch watching TV when all of a sudden, Therese yells out, "Oh God! It's a $%($& Huntsman!" I look over to the wall across from us and there is the biggest spider I have ever seen in my life (Google Image it to see what we were up against)! Each of its legs were literally 3-4 inches long, and it was slowly creeping up the wall. Therese starts screaming and telling me that I need
to kill it, but there was no way I was even getting close to that thing! Being reduced to the most basic of gender stereotypes, we went back and woke up Stefan and told him he needed to either catch it or kill it. As Therese said, "This is why you need a bloke in the house!" However, said bloke took one look at the spider and refused to go after it. This brought fear to our hearts as there was no way any of us were going to go to sleep with that in the house. Finally, Therese told Stefan that she would buy him a beer if he would kill it. Apparently, this was enough incentive and Stefan crept toward it and after first rolling the spider up in the blinds, caught it in a container and took it outside. Later seeing that same container back in the cupboard made me severely question my use of the Tupperware in that house.
Now that the spider incident has been resolved, we are all able to sleep soundly in the house again. Furthermore, you are now all caught up on the events of the past week! This weekend, there
is a big "footy" tournament on TV and I have been invited to a BBQ in order to celebrate it. I'm also hoping to do some sightseeing in downtown Perth and maybe get over to the northern beaches if it's not too cold. Keep me updated on all that's happening back at home (either in the U.S. or Canada) and enjoy the last few days of September!
I miss you all! 😊
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Should have used a swifer to take out that spider. I hear they are highly effective weapons.
I figure as long as the thing I must capture or kill can't fly, I'll go after it. But that sounds and looks like a scary spider! Lindsey, it sounds as if you are having a great time and being productive as heck, so way to go. And the Discovery Channel thing, holy cow!
This is a pretty awesome blog update Linds. There were a number of great quotes ;) My personal favourite being re: Sunday vice satisfaction. I\'m still reeling from the huntsman spider incident, and it didn\'t even happen to me. I love how your landlord, the one who should be the most experienced with these monsters, tells you that YOU have to kill it. Perhaps we should sent Matt over there with a Swiffer... ;)
man vs spider
To be fair to Stefan's low price of risking himself, aren't beers in Australia huge? Like 2-3 Canadian beer cans in one Australian beer can? Have fun at the BBQ!
I loved the story, it made me smile! :) Your description of the prison sounded like Alcatraz in San Fransisco, my relatives have toured it and I've seen it on movies. Also, the sunset photo is beautiful. It has been raining on and off here all week (I got caught in it this morning biking to campus), so you're not missing much nice weather lately. Take care!