The Melbourne Musuem

Posted by Leo at 9:18 pm on Monday, November 29, 2010
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Australian culture of the day: “I’ve never seen it better.” is slang for I’m doing well.

I went to the Melbourne Museum yesterday. I enjoyed seeing many exhibits; including dinosaurs, sea life, the earth, animals, the brain, the body, and forests. Two of the most interesting things I saw were viewfinders that pointed at the bone skeletons of animals. when you looked through them the animal bones transformed into the living animal before your eyes and appeared in it’s natural habitat. There was then a short video of it moving around and then it switched back to the skeleton. This was accomplished by having a video of the skeleton as it would appear if you looked through a screen. The other interesting thing that I saw were two animatronic dinosaurs. I took a video of them. They looked rather real. I want someone to make an animatronic jurassic park…or better yet, make jurassic park itself. Once we can manipulate DNA we should be able to reconstruct the dinosaurs by tweaking bird DNA. For more on this topic, read the book “How to Build a Dinosaur”.

In other news, Harvard scientists have reversed the ageing process in mice – now for humans! This doesn’t have anything to do with me being in Australia. It just has to do with my goal of living hundreds of years. For more on this, read Aubrey De Grey’s book “Ending Aging” and learn about the exponential growth of technology.

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Scotsterdam!

Posted by Rebecca at 4:20 pm on Monday, November 29, 2010
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Last weekend, the 19th, I went to visit Sarah in Scotland for her birthday! On Friday, after a trip entailing a bus to a train to a six-hour bus ride to Dundee, Sarah got me from the bus station and took me back to her flat. Her flatmates were setting up their kitchen/common area and we weren’t allowed in until it was ready. They’d decorated the room and had made three cakes and had a bunch of other snacks out, and invited a bunch of people over. We partied in the common room for a couple of hours and then went out to a fun little club called Underground, where drunk Irish girls sang their own rendition of Happy Birthday to Sarah.

On Saturday, we walked around Dundee and did a bit of shopping. We went into a museum and learned a bit of history about Dundee, which was pretty interesting! In the evening, we met up with Sarah’s friends and went out to dinner and then to see the new Harry Potter movie, which was totally amazing! I’d say it’s definitely the best so far.

On Sunday, we took the bus to Edinburgh for the day. Edinburgh is GORGEOUS! It reminded me of Athens in a way, because it was a modern city set in what clearly has deeply-rooted pieces of history in every direction. We saw about every landmark you could imagine, including Edinburgh Castle, which we couldn’t see all of, but I loved because, well, it’s a castle. We went to a pub called Dirty Dick’s for lunch, where I got a Vegetarian MacHaggis Burger, which is exactly what it sounds like. Dirty Dick’s was great–it reminded me a bit of The Egg’s Nest in Rosendale for it’s funky decorations and interesting/delicious menu. We walked around Edinburgh until our legs were killing us, and finally made an 8:30 bus back to Dundee.

On Monday morning, I took an 8:55 bus back to Manchester, got the train back to Huddersfield, and took the bus back to Storthes, and had a nice, loooong sleep.

On Thursday afternoon, I got packed up for Amsterdam! Kirsty, Lauren and I left Storthes to meet with the rest of our group at the Graduate, the bar in the Student Union. The bus was running late because of how much it had snowed up north. We finally left at about 7:30. The bus to Dover, where we got the ferry, took about six hours on its own. The ferry took another hour and a half, and the bus to Amsterdam from Calais, which is the port in France, took about another four or five hours. This was possibly the most unpleasant traveling experience of my life. We didn’t get to our hotel until 10 am!!! This left, of course, no time for sleeping. I took the worst shower of my life at this hostel. The showerhead literally let out a thin stream of either boiling hot or freezing cold water from the center, and that was it. Awful.

Finally, Kirsty, Lauren, and our roommate Suzanne, set off to find Anne Frank’s house. This was no small task. We did have a map, but Dutch words/street names are long and impossible to pronounce, so orienting ourselves was rather difficult. We had to literally count how many canals we had passed in order to figure out if we were at approximately the right place. We finally found it, and it was really something else. I am the only Jewish person I know in the UK (other than Sarah), so being in Anne Frank’s house meant more to me than it probably would have had I come with my family or other friends from home, most of whom are Jewish too. I realized I’d never seen any Jewish museum or memorial or place of worship—ANYTHING—without other Jewish people who I knew with me. This time, I was pretty acutely aware that what I was experiencing was something different than what my friends were experiencing. For my friends, it was “wow, I can’t believe this happened to Jewish people”, and for me, it was “wow, I can’t believe this happened to MY people”. Obviously, I’m not saying that non-Jews can’t feel pain for what Holocaust victims went through, I was just never so aware of how MY experience of seeing these places is different from a non-Jew’s experience.

It was really pretty eerie being in Anne Frank’s house. I kept trying to imagine that I was her, climbing the same insanely steep steps she did, but it never lasted for long.

After that, we needed a bit of a distraction, so we sat in one of Amsterdam’s coffee shops (hint hint) for a while, and then walked around and took pictures of the amazing city.

That night, we went out to a bar with the rest of our group. We had a pretty decent time, but we left at around 1 to go eat. We went to Wok to Walk, which implies what it was–a sort of create your own Chinese food place. That was perfect! Giant portions and good, greasy food.

On Saturday, we slept in and walked around Amsterdam a lot. We were too tired to do anything too much, but seeing such a beautiful city in person was activity enough. We went to sleep early to prepare ourselves for the nothingness that would take place on our way back the next day.

The way back to Huddersfield was about as exciting as the way there, except that on the way back to Storthes from Uni, a few of us shared a big tax—it held nine people including the driver, who was absolutely MAD (jeez I sound British!) He blasted Indian music and drove almost drunkenly (he was clearly not drunk) all the way back. It was hilarious and terrifying all at once.

Today, I got up and attempted to do some work, but was way too preoccupied with thoughts of tomorrow’s EuroThanksgiving to really concentrate. At about 2, Lauren, Kirsty and I went shopping for groceries and spent almost 2 hours at the supermarket!

For tomorrow, I’ll be making butternut squash soup, salad, sweet potatoes, the most amazing macaroni and cheese the world has ever known, apple pie, and flourless chocolate cake. I CANNOT WAIT.

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