27 February 2012

I co-authored a published paper, cool

As most will know I graduated from University with Honours (in I.T) last year. I loved University, I honestly did. My first and second year were pretty uneventful, but by my third year I finally started to make an effort to get more involved, and by my forth year I was pretty entrenched in the University, known amongst all the faculty staff, present nearly every day, hosting and attending I.T events, and I even taught one of the practical classes (which was such a joy and highlight of my entire time there).

Late during my Honours year I was asked by one of the senior lecturers if I would like to co-author a paper with him, I was still currently finishing my Thesis at that time but jumped for the opportunity anyway. My part was going to be minor compared to his (due to my other commitments), but I put in the required effort and produced a good quality write up containing the area of research he needed looking into to support his primary hypothesis.

It was quite a while ago since I did that so I had almost forgotten all about it, until the other day he emailed to inform me that it has finally been completed and was accepted into the academic journal IEEE for publishing =)


While I was only a co-author (and not the primary author that is), it is still a nice achievement and is not something everyone gets a chance to do in their life time, so I am glad I got the opportunity. My next goal however is to be the primary author of my own published paper, something I am in the middle of doing at this very minute so hopefully we will be seeing a second post about this topic before long.

I haven't written this post to brag or to fish for congratulations, I simply like to document any monumental achievements for my own safekeeping. What I would like readers to get out of a post like this is for you think about setting your own goals to work towards, so one day you can document your own achievements that you can look back on some day and be proud of.

24 February 2012

LivingItUp: Dinner and crazy dance moves

Another post in my 'Living It Up While I Still Can' series where I try and do as much fun activities with friends and family as I can possibly squeeze in before I take off for hopefully a year abroad in New York City starting March 2012.

Weekends like the one just passed honestly makes me not want to leave for America. The last six months have been incredible and I have been having some of the best times with friends, with Saturday night just gone being one of the most ridiculous but most epic fun ones I have ever had.

I was with the now usual gang of 5 friends... you know the one, that absolutely amazing group whom I have only fairly recently become a permanent member of... that same group that she is apart of. Anyway suffice to say that these guys and girls are pretty memorable on even an ordinary hang out.

My best mate from home came down so already I knew the night was going to be great. The plan was meant to be a simple dinner and movies, so Jason and I figured we'd have a beer before we meet with the gang... or three! We obviously took a taxi into town (don't drink and drive people!), dinner was a bit of a blur, there was great conversations, my favourite company, and good food.

I was happy.

A low point suddenly hit me when conversation turned to the group's upcoming University graduation ceremonies (they've all recently graduated last year)... which I obviously won't be around to see. I disconnected myself from the conversations and reflected, counting myself lucky to have such fun times like this on a regular basis, wondering how I even got myself to this point, then realizing that I will soon be leaving it all behind. Talks turned to upcoming birthdays... another thing I will be missing out on.

Before I could dwell on it further it was time to leave.

Somewhere along the way plans got changed and we were skipping the movie and instead heading back to one of their houses. That means time for more beers, fine by me! We put on cheesy pop songs from the 90's (Barbie Girl by Aqua anyone?), drank beers and wine, and I remember in my half drunken state I tried to pull off my swing dance skills (I'm still keeping up with the lessons!). We danced in that loungeroom for hours, to the worst songs ever, singing at the top of our lungs. There was stupid jokes, some serious talks about my upcoming trip, then some stupidly fun dancing with Polly which was awesome.

At... I don't know what time... when had we arrived there? It had only felt like we'd been there 30 minutes but it must have been at least 3 hours, Jason and I finally bid our farewells and stumbled down the road to my house. We talked a lot on the way home. I have known this guy for 11 years now. I can't quite remember what we talked about but I know I appreciated whatever was said.

We were all such idiots that night, but the best kind of idiots, the invigorating kind that you can only be when you are sincerely comfortable with the people around you, where you can be completely yourself with no worries about being judged, or laughed at, or frowned upon... to be able to release that inner-free-silly-spirit that everyone has inside of them but sadly rarely get to let show.

It was a rather fond memory of how living free whilst young can be so... simply awesome.

21 February 2012

What's important to me

After spending the past Saturday completely isolated (by choice) by hiding out in my backyard and relaxing in my hammock for the entire afternoon, I put a lot of effort into thinking about some topics that will help me figure a lot of stuff out:
1. My personalities (or in other words, who am I)
2. What's important to me (what do I believe in)
3. What I want to do in life (most likely the result from the two points above)

Here is my attempt at answering 'What's important to me'

So this is part two of my three part self discovery series where after trying to establish what my personality is (read the top paragraph), I now want to attempt to figure out what is important to me. And I don't mean shallow things like 'my best friend means the world to me!!!'... I am talking about those deep down passions and connections everyone has about only a select handful of topics. And I apologize in advance that some of these points below may come across as also a bit of a rant... I get really passionate about certain topics.

- The environment is something I am rather passionate about. I really hate the careless wasting of resources (materials, food, water, energy), lives (both humans and animals), and the unneeded destruction of lands and oceans that you see on the news every day. The idea of energy efficiency, renewable energy, resource re-usability and resource efficiency (materials, gas etc) fascinates me.

- Keeping fit and healthy is both a passion and a way of life. Whilst I have always been semi-fit my entire life (always very slim) and never really ate much junk food anyway, in the last 6 months I have really upped my dedication, working out 3 times every single week and cutting out junk food almost entirely. I am confident that this will stay with me forever, and I am always trying to encourage people to attempt the same (it isn't that hard, seriously!).

- Doing something with meaning in life. I don't want to work somewhere, or do anything, if I don't feel that it is helping me (or the community, or the world) move forward in some way. Whether we are advancing a technology, or helping a community build better facilities, or educating people with a new skill... it just has to be better then it was before the work began. Perhaps a job that falls into this category could be teaching, or diplomacy, or perhaps something to do with business sustainability (eg. improving the energy and resource efficiency of businesses).

- The idea of love is quite a big motivator for me. I obviously have all these big dreams of what I want to achieve in the future, and of course there is also my love of travel, and I am also so passionate about certain stuff, that I guess I've always liked the idea of finding someone who can do all that with me. To join me on my journey kind of thing, and for them to be someone that I could help them and accompany them on their own journey also. But unlike the points above, this one is outside my control!

- My rebellion against modern society. I hate how people are far too materialistic, brain washed by marketing, too money focused, food focused (seen any obesity statistics lately? It's frightening), and so uncaring about other peoples lives outside their own. We live in a world where more money is spent on advertising fast food annually than is spent researching on a cure for cancer.

Who says we must live a certain way? We are almost forced to spend the majority of our lives sitting at a crappy job, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, just so we can have the essentials of life (somewhere to live, food). And all this I believe stems from the stupidly rich multinational corporations and governments, with their policies and greed to keep only the people at the top rich.

Then, there is the behaviour of our society that distresses me so. Too many people seem to feel the need to buy the biggest house and the nicest TV and the coolest car they possibly can. What ever happened to living modestly? I personally do not care what brand my clothes are and where I bought them from, or that I drive a crapbox car around, or that I don't own a TV or any game consoles (only my PC of course). This is not the result of not being to afford any of it, it is simply because I strongly do not believe this is what our species was intended to evolve into.

In other words, life is meant to be lived through experiences, not possessions!

- Which brings me onto my last but most important, living life beyond the norm is my highest priority above all else I would have to say. If you are pursuing a dream, or working on a hobby, or trying something new for the first time (often just for the sake of doing something different) then I will instantly be drawn to you and would love to hear your story. It doesn't have to be grand either, you just need to be getting out there and living life. This way of thinking is what drives my entire being, it is why I have accomplished all the things I have, and why I have the big dreams I am working towards.

Cool, so, I guess that's the primary ones at least, there are of course many other things in life that I cherish (music, friends) but these above are what I believe truly defines me as a person. I think basically in conclusion it appears I have this certain way I view the world, and then I have a view of how I would like it to be instead (less materialistic, healthy and happier people, less destruction)... so I guess in a way I am, without really realizing, simply trying to live by example almost? That is definitely not to imply I am perfect and should be considered a role model however.

It is nice to know I do try and stick to my core beliefs as best as I can at least, although no matter how many times I re-read this post it still feels like I am missing something important. I guess that's the problem with being human, we are too complex, you can never just 'sum up' an individual into neat little dot points =)

16 February 2012

My Valentines Day (aka I got my Tattoo!)

Valentines Day, full of romance, flowers, love... and all that kind of stuff. Luckily for me I am single (which I am really enjoying by the way) so I didn't have to worry about any of that and instead had a date of my own lined up *beware of incoming super cheesy joke*, a date with ink that is =)

Because my best mate Jason and I finally fulfilled our 5 year in the making promise to some day get tattoos!

We've been talking about getting tattoos for literally 5 or more years now, around the time we turned 18 was when it first came about. Back in July last year I was playing around with one particular tattoo idea, and then with the announcement that I was moving to NYC in 2012 did I really sit down and take the steps needed to make it all happen.

The fact that our appointment fell on that day was actually pretty funny and purely by chance (cause... yeah, what two bros purposely plan to have a tattoo on Valentines Day?). We didn't even realize what February 14th was until the lady behind the desk said "oh, nice, Valentines Day" did Jason and I actually click that it was. We both laughed and realized we have both been out of the dating game for quite a while ha.

I ended up sticking with my original design of having some script along my inner left arm that says:

"If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything"


The calligraphy turned out incredible:

I really love the font and how the detail and clarity of the letters came out.

Apologies for the poor quality of the pictures, I had to take them myself, and the iPhone doesn't take great photos in poor light. I will update with better ones when I get the chance.

The end result looks superb, the level of detail, style and clarity in the letters is beyond impressive, I really couldn't of asked for it to turn out looking any cooler than it already does. It is a few days old now and my mind is having quite a difficult time grasping the idea that there is now a permanent new addition to my body, it is rather surreal knowing that this is now apart of me for as long as I live.

And that adds another item checked off the Lift List!

08 February 2012

Flights booked - Check!

I am on fire! Organizing stuff for this trip to America like a pro! Usually I am the worst at getting myself organized... weddings, parties, deadlines... without a doubt I'll always forget something or be terribly late, so I am rather proud that I have actually managed to get all this stuff done on my own.

Perhaps I am growing up?

Because guys, it was only last week that my Visa got approved and yesterday... I booked my flights!

Yes, wow... that sounds way too official, like this-trip-is-actually-happening-and-isn't-just-my-wild-ramblings kind of official. To be honest it still hasn't really hit me that I am leaving, but I am like this before every trip I take so I'm not too concerned. The plan thus far is to leave from my home of Melbourne, Australia to leave for Sydney, Australia on March 19th, stay at my Aunties house for a few days, then on the 22nd make my way for a direct flight to Los Angeles, America.

And the plan from there? Well... one doesn't really exist as yet to be honest, the only thing locked in is that I dream to live in New York City for at least a couple of months (the idea to be able to claim that I've lived in NYC is going to be one of my life's greatest achievements), but beyond that I really have not a clue. The list of things I must see is growing, and I can't decide on anything really and am thinking of just winging it.

Although lately there has been a lot of thought put into the possibility of cruising the entire Route 66 from West to East which is sounding pretty tempting =D

But alas, who knows what will happen! 5 short weeks to go... got to live it up at home while I still can. Starting to miss home already.

06 February 2012

Introducing myself, to myself

After spending the past Saturday completely isolated (by choice) by hiding out in my backyard and relaxing in my hammock for the entire afternoon, I put a lot of effort into thinking about some topics that will help me figure a lot of stuff out:
1. My personalities (in other words, who am I)
2. What's important to me (what do I believe in)
3. What do I want to do in life (most likely the result from the two points above)

Here is my attempt to dot down who I am.

The motivation to break myself down into my 'split personalities' came from this YouTube video by user Sillysparrowness (real life name Astrid, who is pretty much in my 'top ten coolest people I've ever seen' list). Anyways, she brought up the very valid topic that no one is ever just one-dimensional, so I wanted to attempt to establish all my dimensions to help clarify myself, to myself... or something like that. So here is what I think I am made of:

Dreamer - Rarely a day goes by where I haven't imagined a world and life much more exciting then my own. That's not to say that my life is boring, on the contrary I have a fun activity going on nearly every day of the week (I even have a series running at the moment called 'LivingItUp')... but that doesn't stop me dreaming up something better. This trait is one of my favourites as it allows for the creative spirit required for me create a unique life for myself, and it provides motivation by always having my 'dream' future to work towards. The downside I guess is that I should appreciate what I already have a bit more.

Enthusiastic - I am interested in too much stuff! I am obviously already traveling to New York City soon, but I am already wanting to live in China sometime, and visit Sweden, teach at my Univeristy again someday, get better at Swing Dancing. Then there is the intellectual interests; learn a new language, my constant reading of NewScientist.com despite the fact I don't have a background in science, ideas on a book to write... no where near enough time to do them all. But it's ok, it keeps me active and forever busy at least, and more importantly makes life fun =)

Lazy - I have a severe flaw where I struggle to finish anything that I've started. Although while it can appear that this is due to simple laziness, in fairness I think it mainly stems from being a Dreamer and an Enthusiast. I get (and am already) interested in far too many things far too easily that often times projects I begin get superseded by another new one before long. Still... the list of unfinished projects is dreadfully long (and growing longer every year), something that if addressed I know would make my life much more fulfilling... but I guess I'll get around to it, eventually. 

Smart/Resourceful - While I am not a stunning genius, I am definitely no slouch when it comes to intelligence. I make it a priority to stay informed about a range of topics (much easier by my tendency to be interested in just about every relevant topic on the planet) and I excel at just about every task I am handed. Additionally I seem to be rather resourceful, although I admit I am not entirely sure how as I don't seem to be doing it entirely consciously, yet I somehow seem to navigate through life rather well (eg. being financially sound, having a high-class job, solid note worthy friends, my travels). This is something I am proud about, yet extremely cautious of as I don't truly know the limits of what I can and can't do and would hate to get in over my head.

Anxious - Couple a few of the above traits together and it paints the picture of one rather fast moving mind, one with a seemingly endless swirl of ideas and information. I do struggle quite a lot to simply 'live in the moment' and remain calm at times with so much always going on, and with my belief that I have some very strange luck (both good and bad), I for some reason have a hard time to not over-think just about everything. I blogged about this recently in concern to my upcoming trip to NYC. This is something I am always working on, and try my best not to let it interfere with life (to varying success).

Loyal - Loyalty is something I definitely don't joke around with, if you are worth my time and I count you as a true friend, expect me to be there for you no matter what. I do a hell of a lot for my friends, sometimes even when I really can't be bothered, but I'll do it anyway because that's what mates are for. This applies not just to friends, but also to companies and workplaces.. I love this trait but it is a very dangerous one, ripe to be taken advantage of.

Friendly - I am really friendly and will always try my best to greet a new person with respect and open mindedness (something I have gained from my travels). While it takes a lot to become a true friend (see Loyal) I will gladly count you as an acquaintance. In life I have two main groups of very good friends, and then a foot in about 3 other circles of friends whom are all completely different from one another. It makes for a very varied and diverse social life, with always something different going on, and the amount you can learn from the most unexpected people is amazing.

Proactive -  Despite my constant battle with the Lazy trait, the Dreamer, Enthusiast and Smart/Resourceful dimensions seem to be somewhat sufficient in overpowering it and I actually (eventually at least) manage to do a lot of the stuff I want to do. Every now and then I actually manage to complete some pretty monumental achievements, and am pretty proud of my blog archive (eg. the Life List page). I hate people who speak of all these things they have always wanted to do, but then never actually go do them and simply spill out a list of excuses of why... alas I actively try and be the opposite of these people.

Yes... ok, after about ten revisions I think this is the most accurate summary I can come up with. I still feel there is at least another five dimensions I should add but alas. Each trait reflects and influences another, and each trait plays a very crucial part in my life choices; the Dreamer quality is my the basis of my NYC trip, Enthusiasm is why I am always trying new activities (Swing dance lessons and Yoga for instance), Anxious is basically the reason behind 50% of my posts ha. Hmm, yes, I am actually surprisingly pleased how this turned out.

I'd really like to read anyone's own attempt at this, let me know if you do one and I'll link your blog on this post.

S.Love has done her own version which was very cool of her. It also appears we are somewhat alike ha. I highly recommend giving her blog a read also as she is on my 'My Favourite Blogs to Follow' list.

04 February 2012

Time to live with less worry and more excitement

In my constant pursuit to find interesting new blogs to follow I stumbled across one with this quote on the header:

"Be careful what you water your dreams with.
Water them with worry and fear, 
and you will produce weeds that choke
the life from your dreams.
Water them with optimism and solutions,
and you will cultivate success."

Not the best motivational metaphor to be honest, but the general idea is true enough, and as I read it a realization suddenly hit me rather profoundly... I have been spending way too much time leading up to my trip to New York City worrying and stressing, and I just had to stop and ask myself seriously "what is worrying going to accomplish?"

The answer to that is obviously nothing, there is nothing to come from worrying. And I know this, I always have, but I also know that it is just who I am. While I am not going to be so bald as to say 'from now on I am never going to worry about the trip ever again'... because I know that would be impossible of myself, I will at least make a sincere effort to turn my attitude around.

I mean, of course I am excited about the trip, honestly! I know my blog posts don't really give that impression sometimes but that is only because I usually use my blog to sort through problems or confusing thoughts (and not really just to talk about my good fortune), hence the many posts about worrying that 'it will all be a waste of time' and so on.  But yes, I am excited, very much so.

I guess I have never been one for 'beginnings' of journeys and always much prefer to already be half way through them. Even with my recent trip to China I was fretting quite excessively leading up to the departure date... only to find by the time I was a few days into the trip I never wanted to leave!

I am sure this trip will be somewhat the same =)

Maybe I just need to learn relax ha. It is comforting to realize I am at least improving substantially all the time... this time last year I was a mental wreck, and even worst the year before that. We all have our own issues, and I am working on mine.

At the very least I will never let them get in the way of living no matter how bad it gets.

03 February 2012

LivingItUp: Night at the Cricket

Another post in my 'Living It Up While I Still Can' series where I try and do as much fun activities with friends and family as I can possibly squeeze in before I take off for hopefully a year abroad in New York City starting March 2012.

I'll warn you now that this post isn't anything special, and probably isn't even worth the read, and is instead mostly for my personal safekeeping in which I want to document the fun things I do while still at home before I jetset overseas in a little over a months time!

Tonight my dad, my friend Brendan and myself went to see a game of 20-20 Cricket at the absolutely magnificent Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). This sports ground is amazing, I love coming here whenever I can. Mostly I come for Australian Football League (AFL) games which is just so cool, but in Summer time in Australia it is the season of Cricket =D
The game has started, look how nice the stadium is.

Soon started to get dark.

The half-time entertainment was one of the stupidest ideas ever... who thought letting off smoke-producing fireworks in a stadium is a good idea!?

Yeah... not the greatest idea, ha!
After the game.

Australia frustratingly lost the match... which seems to happen every time I actually go to see one, but oh well, it is definitely the social company and atmosphere that makes the night memorable.

In particular to me at least was hanging out with Brendan, it kind of signifies how much my life has changed for the immeasurable better over the last 6 months... I really have not a clue how it happened, and it makes me not even want to go on my trip because of it. A little over 6 months ago I was posting rather depressing stuff like this, declaring how sad and lonely I was feeling in life... and now in such a short amount of time I am hanging out with only newly gained friends (Brendan in this case) whom it feels like I have known a life time. And he is only one of nearly a dozen newly gained amazing friends... life is strange is all I conclude with.