Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Do you want the good news or the bad news?

Let's start with the bad news.

As some of my readers know, I had a bit of a setback with my exam results, which means that instead of being on holidays with my med mates from 22 November, I have to keep studying for the supplementary Barrier exam (to be held on 13 and 14 December). [If I fail, I have to repeat second year, so obviously I have plenty to motivate me.] Very upsetting - I cried for a day, but then I gave myself a stern talking-to and started studying again.

That meant I had to put my grand plans of finding a place to live on the backburner. I can't spare the time to research online, and then inspect units all day Saturday (and other days), and then pack up and move out. I was resigned to living here until early next year, when I'll have time to look again.

Time for some good news.

Enter my knight in shining armour, otherwise known as my sister's fiancé. He lives with my sister in London, and he recently bought a house in the inner west with his best mate. His mate is moving in, and is looking for a housemate.

That's where I come in! The rent is great, the location is great, and it's a house - not a bloody unit. Yay!!

And I'm also very excited because my new housemate has a dog! I haven't had a dog since my beautiful Snowy died over 10 years ago.

So now I need to focus on these exams, then move into the new place a week later - just before Christmas. Looking forward to celebratory Christmas drinks...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Speed dating, redux

A few days ago, I went speed dating again.

This time went by myself, and I did it with a different company. It was much better - better organised, better host, all drinks provided (and filled up as soon as they were empty), and lovely food provided too.

It was slightly different to standard speed dating - this one had a theme. The theme was "university educated". I don't care if the man of my dreams is university educated or not (as long as he can spell!), but the deal with this theme is that you receive a trivia question to answer with each guy you meet, and the winner gets a prize at the end. I love trivia, so it was the obvious choice for me.

The trivia was fun - quite hard actually - and I didn't win the prize.

What surprised me was that everyone took the "university educated" theme quite seriously, so I had to explain my current and past university history to each guy. I suppose it was the obvious thing to talk about, but it was quite different to last time, where I only revealed my career details to about half of the guys.

I met 11 blokes (there was one no-show), and they were all nice and fairly normal. No scary/strange stories - in fact I didn't find myself praying for the 8 minutes to be up all night.

Despite that, I wasn't particularly into anyone. Like last time, I put "yes" beside 2 guys, just because I was admonishing myself for being too picky. Neither of them picked me, so no matches again! Unlike the previous speed dating company, this one doesn't tell you how many other men picked you - they just say "other people expressed an interest in seeing you again". So it could've been one, or it could've been 9! Who knows...

I think that'll be my last foray into the world of speed dating (for a while at least). Time to come up with a better idea. To quote Charlotte from Sex and the City: "I've been dating since I was fifteen! I'm exhausted! Where is he?"


Friday, October 19, 2007

Should I stay or should I go?

In February I moved into a unit in Sydney's inner west. The circumstances of my moving were stressful - I returned from an overseas trip needing to move quickly, so I didn't have time to be picky. I ended up doing well to get a 2-bedroom place with laundry, balcony and garage for $250 a week (it's about 15-20 mins from the hospital by bus). I live alone, so the second bedroom is a study, which is very handy for this med student!

However there is a problem - I HATE it here. I'm so unhappy here. And so I think it's time to move.

Reasons for moving

Too much information: It's a ground floor unit. I can hear everything that goes on in the unit above, and by that I mean I can hear every time they use the toilet. Not just the flushing - the actual USING of the toilet.

Other noise: Being on the ground floor, there's a fair amount of noise from outside too - for example, when people come home late at night, I get woken by them talking as they walk past my place to the main doors.

Traffic noise: The street didn't seem that busy to begin with, but because my place is opposite another street, I get the cars that turn the corner and then accelerate, loudly. Hoons with doof doof music and WRXs seem to love my street, as do motorcyclists.

Earplugs: Since moving in, there are very few nights where I haven't worn earplugs to bed. That is no way to live! (And they don't even work that well anyway.)

Smoker: Someone in the unit next door is a smoker. They smoke on their balcony. Their balcony is beside my laundry, which is beside my kitchen. When this idiot smokes, it wafts in through my laundry and kitchen windows, and my whole unit stinks of smoke. I'm not kidding. It's disgusting.

Mental health: The second bedroom, or study, is beside the main entry doors to the unit block. People are constantly coming and going. The room also looks out on the driveway, so I get cars going up and down. It's noisy and distracting, and I find it impossible to study here. In the 2 weeks before my recent exams, I relocated to Mum's place while she was overseas, so that I could study in peace and quiet. If that option hadn't been available, I think I may have had a nervous breakdown prior to the exams. (Hey, maybe I should've done that and gone for special consideration!)

Wildlife: I had major exams last week, over 2 full days. On the night in between, I was preparing for bed when I heard a scratching, banging sound on my bedroom window. I have security screens, and the window was closed. I opened the blinds and let my eyes adjust to the darkness. First, I saw a bogong moth caught between the window and the screen, flying up and down. But that couldn't have been making the noise. My eyes adjusted further, and I saw it - a RAT outside, chasing the moth up and down the security screen. OH MY GOD. (Most people I've told this story to have had the same reaction: MOVE. NOW.) I banged on the window and the rat fell off into the bushes. Strangely, I didn't freak out, although I couldn't sleep straight away, so I kept studying. (I don't think the extra study made a difference to my exam performance, unfortunately.)

Dodgy neighbours: Last week I was sitting at the computer in the afternoon, about 4pm. I heard something smash in the stairwell. I had a look through the peephole in my front door and saw the 30-something guy from the unit upstairs picking up something that he'd dropped. I thought nothing of it and sat back at my desk. Next thing, I saw the guy walk past my window, on his way to the garbage bins. Except he wasn't walking - he was stumbling, and obviously completely pissed. About half an hour later I went outside to get the mail. As soon as I opened my front door, I got a big whiff of alcohol (bourbon I think), and then I spotted massive shards of glass all over the stairwell. The drunken moron hadn't picked up most of the broken glass! I was furious, but didn't want to confront him if he was drunk. And I didn't want to hurt myself picking it up. So I wrote a note and stuck it to the front door, warning other residents about the glass, and asking for "whoever did this" to clean it up immediately before someone hurt themselves. It was never cleaned up, and my note had disappeared by the next morning. Ugh. Yesterday (one week later), the cleaners were there, and they were not at all impressed to be cleaning up broken glass. Thankfully it's all gone now. Dodgy bastard.

Strange sound: Every day, at various times during the day, but mostly in the early evening, I hear a strange sound emanating from a unit upstairs (can't work out which one it is). It sounds like someone is releasing pressured air from a tyre. It's very loud, and it drives me insane because I don't know what it is, why it's happening, and why I have to hear it every day. My rare moments of peace and quiet here are often shattered by this incredibly loud sound. Oh - there it goes again. How's the serenity?

Memories: It hasn't been a happy year for me (for several reasons - not just because of this place), so I'd love to get out of here and make a fresh start.

Short lease: When I moved in, the agents insisted on a 32-week lease, for some bullshit financial records reason that I will not attempt to understand. I was worried because I thought they might raise the rent at the first opportunity. The lease was up nearly 4 weeks ago, and I haven't heard a peep from them. So the ball's in my court now - I can look for somewhere new to live, and I can afford to be picky.

Reasons for not moving

Rental market: The market is worse now than it was at the beginning of the year. There's no way I'll find somewhere with the same features as this place, for the same price. But that's OK. I'll pay a bit more to move closer to the hospital, to a place with everything I want and need.

Moving sucks: Packing is horrible, and the whole thing takes time. And money.

Money: I'm a poor student, earning OK money but generally just getting by. Moving can be expensive, and I'll definitely feel the pinch if I have to pay significantly higher rent.

Gym: I currently live less than a 5 minute walk from my gym. If I move, I'll have to drive there (or find a new gym), which will require a LOT of motivation. I do love the gym though, so I think I can handle it.

Time: Finding somewhere to live, and then moving, takes time. I'm currently studying for more exams, and trying to work. Do I really need to add something else to my busy schedule?

Party: I'm having a "housewarming" party next weekend - ha! It took me long enough! Hopefully it'll be a party celebrating the fact that I'm moving out.

There are definitely more reasons for moving, so it's time to get started. I've found about 15 places to inspect tomorrow. And I've got up until the end of November to find somewhere, so that I can give notice and then move before Christmas. After that, I'll have to wait until late January to start looking, by which time I'll be back at uni 5 days a week.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Music guilt

Every five years or so, I succumb to "music guilt". This phenomenon is the realisation that I own a hell of a lot of music that I never listen to.

My solution for this is to force myself to listen to all of my music.

Last time I did this, my music was all on CDs. My CDs are sorted alphabetically by artist (and soundtrack name), so I started with "About A Boy" and finished with You Am I.

This time it's all in iTunes, and there's a lot more of it (over 30 GB). To ensure I wouldn't be listening to the same artist over and over again, I sorted iTunes by album, so there was a good mix of artists and styles. I started listening in February ("1" by The Beatles), and finished today ("9" by Damien Rice).

Part-way through this experiment, iTunes changed the way it orders items alphabetically, which threw me off a bit. In February, numbered titles appeared at the beginning (before A), and now they appear at the end (after Z) - hence why I started and ended with numbered titles. Also, titles starting with The originally appeared under T, but now the The is ignored and they're sorted alphabetically by the next word.

Annoyingly, these changes were applied to iTunes, but not to the iPod software, so the album order is different between the two.

I always play music when I've got my computer on (yes, I study while listening to music - always have, always will), and otherwise I listen to my iPod - either on the way to and from uni, or in the car.

I was quite strict about listening to the albums in order, although I did allow some to jump the queue, e.g. if I bought/acquired a new album, or if I was going to see a specific band in concert (Dave Matthews Band, My Friend The Chocolate Cake) or on the big screen (Dixie Chicks), or if I just felt like it for some reason.

There are 4 albums that I haven't listened to for a good reason - I don't feel like listening to Christmas albums when Christmas is so far away!

This experiment has reminded me of how much I love my music collection! It was great to hear some of the stuff that I don't listen to very often (e.g. albums that I've acquired from friends) - none of it's bad music, but it's just not my favourite thing to listen to.

I have many, many soundtracks in my collection (71 according to iTunes). I'm a sucker for a soundtrack - they're often wonderful mixes of unusual/popular songs. I love: "About A Boy", "The Beach", "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", "Garden State", "High Fidelity", "Kill Bill Vol. 1", "Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels", "Lost In Translation", "Northern Exposure", "The Piano", "Pulp Fiction", "SeaChange", "Singles", "Twin Peaks", "The Virgin Suicides", and so on...

The bands/artists I have the most albums for are: R.E.M. (21), U2 (13), My Friend The Chocolate Cake (7), Chris Isaak (7), Dave Matthews Band (6), Crowded House (6), Counting Crows (5), INXS (5), Powderfinger (5), Stereophonics (5), Smashing Pumpkins (4), The Whitlams (4), Eva Cassidy (4), Dixie Chicks (4), k.d. lang (4), Things of Stone and Wood (4). I also have a lot of "Best of" collections (over 30), several of the Ministry of Sound collections, and various 80s collections.

So now that's done, I can get back to listening to my favourite tunes! First up is "Give Up" by The Postal Service - haven't listened to it since 18 April (according to iTunes)...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Dolly Doctor

We had a lecture today from the doctor who is actually "Dolly Doctor"!

Anyone who was ever a teenage girl (or boy??) in Australia will understand just how awesome this is.

Here's an article she wrote about it in the MJA:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Triple J Hottest 100

Over the past few days I've listened to the Triple J Hottest 100 CDs, from 1 to 14.

If you're not familiar with the Hottest 100, Triple J radio in Australia runs a countdown every January (usually on Australia Day), where listeners have voted for their favourite songs of the previous year, and the top 100 are played in reverse order. It's an institution these days, and people even hold Hottest 100 parties (I've been to a few over the years). Then, in about July of the same year, Triple J release a double CD containing about 42 of the Hottest 100 songs. I've bought every one of these CDs.

(The Hottest 100 started in 1989, and for the first 3 years it was a countdown of listeners' favourite songs of all time. They skipped 1992, then relaunched it in 1993, focusing only on songs from the previous year. They started producing the CDs in 1993 too.)

The CDs are generally a good mix of music, but each year there is at least one completely shit song that I can forgive listeners for voting into the countdown, but I can't forgive the Triple J producers for putting onto the CDs at the expense of something brilliant.

My favourites are numbers 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6. The early CDs can transport me back to their specific years in seconds, allowing me to reminisce about my days at uni in the early 90s. The standard has fallen in recent years, although perhaps I can put that down to my music tastes evolving beyond what Triple J plays (e.g. I really can't stand Wolfmother).

Anyway, for each Hottest 100 double CD, I've listed my favourite song (difficult to choose just one), the hidden treasure, and the completely shit song (you'll see that I'm not a fan of The Bloodhound Gang). Anyone care to challenge me?

Hottest 100 1 (1993)
  • Favourite: "Cannonball" - The Breeders
  • Hidden treasure: "Juice" - Headless Chickens
  • Shit: "All That She Wants" - Ace of Base

Hottest 100 2 (1994)

  • Favourite: "Cornflake Girl" - Tori Amos
  • Hidden treasure: "Fall" - Single Gun Theory
  • Shit: "Absolutely Fabulous" - Pet Shop Boys

Hottest 100 3 (1995)

  • Favourite: "Common People" - Pulp
  • Hidden treasure: "Summer" - Buffalo Tom
  • Shit: "The Reefer Song" - Mindless Drug Hoover AND "I Wanna Be A Hippy" - Technohead

Hottest 100 4 (1996)

  • Favourite: "Underground" - Ben Folds Five
  • Hidden treasure: "Coppertone" - Fini Scad
  • Shit: "Ballad of the Skeletons" - Allen Ginsberg

Hottest 100 5 (1997)

  • Favourite: "Bitter Sweet Symphony" - The Verve
  • Hidden treasure: "Crazy" - Cordrazine
  • Shit: "Fire Water Burn" - The Bloodhound Gang

Hottest 100 6 (1998)

  • Favourite: "Intergalactic" - The Beastie Boys
  • Hidden treasure: "Drinking in L.A." - Bran Van 3000
  • Shit: "I Don't Like It" - Pauline Pantsdown

Hottest 100 7 (1999)

  • Favourite: "Weir" - Killing Heidi
  • Hidden treasure: "Theophilus Thistler...An Exercise In Vowels" - Sonicanimation
  • Shit: "The Bad Touch" - The Bloodhound Gang

Hottest 100 8 (2000)

  • Favourite: "The Time Is Now" - Moloko
  • Hidden treasure: "Teenager Of The Year" - Lo-Tel
  • Shit: "Sunset (Bird of Prey)" - Fatboy Slim

Hottest 100 9 (2001)

  • Favourite: "Where's Your Head At?" - Basement Jaxx
  • Hidden treasure: "Dust Me Selecta" - Gerling
  • Shit: "Fat Cop" - Regurgitator

Hottest 100 10 (2002)

  • Favourite: "Don't Mug Yourself" - The Streets
  • Hidden treasure: "Punk's Not Dead" - Darren Hanlon
  • Shit: "6.66" - Salmon Hater

Hottest 100 11 (2003)

  • Favourite: "Step Into My Office, Baby" - Belle & Sebastian
  • Hidden treasure: "Life Sentence" - Epicure
  • Shit: "Gay Bar" - Electric Six

Hottest 100 12 (2004)

  • Favourite: "Fit But You Know It" - The Streets
  • Hidden treasure: "Somersault" - Decoder Ring
  • Shit: "Chicken Payback" - The Bees

Hottest 100 13 (2005)

  • Favourite: "Do Do's and Whoa-oh's" - Kisschasy
  • Hidden treasure: "This Year" - The Mountain Goats
  • Shit: "Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo" - The Bloodhound Gang

Hottest 100 14 (2006)

  • Favourite: "One Crowded Hour" - Augie March
  • Hidden treasure: "Heart's A Mess" - Gotye
  • Shit: "I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News)" - Eagles of Death Metal

Monday, August 13, 2007

Black Sheep

Tonight I saw the NZ film "Black Sheep".

"An experiment in genetic engineering turns harmless sheep into blood-thirsty killers that terrorise a sprawling New Zealand farm."

It's a shlock-horror zombie flick, and I was really hoping it would be as good as "Shaun of the Dead"
- but that was asking a bit much.

It's amusing, with plenty of clever lines, plus some more obvious sex-with-sheep jokes, and an obsession with fart jokes (which was unexpected).

It's over-the-top gory, in the style of the early Peter Jackson films "Bad Taste" and "Braindead". For example, when a sheep tears out the intestines of a human victim, the camera doesn't pan away - we get to see EVERYTHING. I have a high tolerance for that sort of thing, but even I was wishing I hadn't eaten dinner before seeing the movie.

The special effects and creature designs are AMAZING, and they're one of the the main reasons I wanted to see the film. They were done by Weta Workshop
, who did the effects for the Lord of the Rings films.

It's really beautifully filmed too - yet another film showcasing New Zealand's natural beauty. I have to go there!

I think what let it down was the acting - very wooden, especially from Danielle Mason, who played the female lead. Every time she spoke I just wanted her to shut the hell up! She wasn't believable at all.

And it's also not really scary. Just gory. Oh so very gory.

But I'm glad I saw it - my curiosity is satisfied. However I'm also glad that I didn't pay to see it - I won tickets from Triple J...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Scrubbers and bitches

Last night I caught up with a couple of my close girlfriends. We've been friends for over 25 years.

For a long, long time, this group of friends has eschewed names when talking to each other, and instead we call each other "Scrubber", "Scrub", "Slapper", "Bitch", and even "Skanky Ho". This applies in person, on the phone, in emails, etc. It's very common to hear me answer the phone and say "Hi scrub, how you going?"

We were speaking like this long before Paris and her merry band of scrubbers even knew how to pronounce the words!

One of the friends I saw last night has lived in the US for the past couple of years, and she was home for a short visit. She was telling us about how she's made friends over there, but that it's just not the same as hanging out with her old friends. At the end of the night, she sighed, smiled, and said "It's just so good to be called "Bitch" again".

Heh - gotta love that.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Speed dating

So last night I tried speed dating for the first time. It was fun, but weird.

Here's how it works: 12 girls, 12 guys. 6 minutes each. The girls stay seated and the guys rotate. Each person wears a tag with their name and a number. You receive a rating sheet, on which you record the tag number of each person you want to see again - and you say whether you want to "date" them, or see them as a "friend". (Meh, I have enough bloody friends!) You hand this in at the end of the night. There's another part to the rating sheet that you get to keep - on this you can make notes about each person so that you can remember them later.

The next day, you receive an email from the organisers. If someone picked you and you also picked them, you receive each other's contact details and can arrange a date if you want to. If people picked you and you didn't pick them, you don't get any contact details, but instead you just find out how many people picked you (a nice little ego boost).

I went with a few friends who'd done it before. When we arrived, they were disappointed to realise that they'd met a couple of the guys the last time they went - and one of my friends had been on an unsuccessful date with one of them! Un! Comfortable!

There ended up being 12 girls and 11 guys. The age range was supposed to be 27 to 39, but I'm certain that 5 of the guys were in their mid-40s (at least).

Everyone was very friendly. With most people, the 6 minutes went really fast, although there were a couple where I was praying for the bell to ring! One guy in particular wouldn't let me get a word in - it was hilarious. The description I wrote on the night was TALKATIVE. (It was good practice for when I have to deal with verbose patients - how to politely interrupt and bring the conversation back on track...)

Another older bloke told me all about his sad divorce, etc., and I do recall he started talking about how he wasn't just looking for someone to have sex with, but thankfully the bell rang before that train of thought could be followed too far.

Then there was the guy who decided he was infatuated with me. Sure, I had very nice hair and cleavage (such as it is) on display last night, but he was a tad over the top. AND it was the same guy my friend had been on a date with after the last event, so not weird at all, right?

We'd briefly chatted at the bar before the formalities got underway, and then when it was his turn for 6 minutes with me, he pulled the chair really close and told me how beautiful I was, he couldn't believe I was single, blah blah. All very lovely of course, but FULL ON. And of course I wasn't interested in him. Then he proceeded to talk about me when he had the 6 minutes with each of my other friends. And then he came back at the end of the night to reiterate everything to me. Sheesh.

Work came up in about 75% of the conversations, so that's where I had to break the news that I'm a poor student (with the prospect of a prosperous future). It drew the usual responses: "you're so brave", "how many years is the course?", "are you going to specialise or just be a GP?" (aaaagh pet hate - General Practice IS a specialty people!). Unfortunately I didn't find myself a sugar daddy.

I picked one guy out of the 11 to see again, and I wasn't even sure about doing that. Got the results today - he didn't pick me, so no matches! However 6 of the other guys picked me, which is nice (I think we can safely assume infatuated guy was one of the 6).

Would I do it again? Sure, but maybe next year. I don't want to see the same people again. And I'd probably only go with one other friend, or maybe none - I think the guys found it odd when they realised we all knew each other so well.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A fond farewell to crap...

Last week we finished learning about gastroenterology at uni. It was really interesting, but I kind of got over all the lectures about poo (especially the different types of diarrhoea). All with pretty pictures of course! But thankfully no smell-o-vision.

Things that stood out:
Now we've started learning about the renal system (kidneys), to be swiftly followed by reproduction. So it's nice to see we're going to be down the business end of the human body for another couple of months.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Shut Up & Sing

Last week I saw "Shut Up & Sing", the documentary about the Dixie Chicks. It was fantastic - inspiring and uplifting. I'm a big fan of the Dixie Chicks, but you don't need to be to enjoy this movie. A healthy dislike for Dubya will do.

"Freedom of speech is fine, as long as you don't do it in public: so the Dixie Chicks learnt after an anti-Bush statement at a London concert saw their fans turn against them, radio refuse to play them, and CD sales plummet. The top selling female recording artists of all time even received death threats – but still they refused to just shut up and sing. This film, voted Best Documentary at the Sydney Film Festival 07, covers the band's effort to ride out the turmoil that would leave their careers under a cloud, yet come out stronger at the end."

Showing at the Chauvel, Paddington.