Thursday, 30 June 2011

Sad to be leaving New York!

Flying back to Sydney tomorrow. Have had an awesome time, and the conference was great. I am looking forward to the cooler weather though (and seeing Husband, of course).

Here are a couple of my favourite pictures from today (boat trip on the Hudson River, such a great day):

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Productive June Recap

[this is a pre-planned post as I'm currently in NYC being super productive at a conference!] 

click to enlarge
As I've mentioned earlier, it's become somewhat of a tradition in the PhD office to have 'Productive June' - a time of attempted increased productivity to make up for the lacklustre efforts of the preceding months. It involves guilt-inducing propaganda posters and everything. Since it's almost over, I thought I would give a bit of a recap of how it went for me, as well as give you some productivity helpers and hindrances. For me, Productive June went fairly well; I did a lot of work on analysing results for my experiment, and putting them together for my conference talk. There were some less-than-productive days in there too, but I feel I made up for that somewhat by working on the weekend a couple of times. How was your Productive June?

Now onto some productivity helps and hinders:

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Hello from New York!

I have arrived safely, you'll be happy to know. Flights were fine (will update another post on fear of flying when I get the chance), though had zero sleep. Also had to rush at LAX to get through customs for my connecting flight - made it just in time!

So I got in to JFK airport yesterday evening and caught a taxi to my hotel on 5th ave (love that the uni is paying for this). The taxi driver was interesting, asked lots of questions about Australia and asked to see Australian money. "This is Queen Elizabeth right?" (looking at $5), "yes that's right", "you guys still follow him?", "err, yes?".

I had a quick look around near my hotel last night, in search of food. Since I was super tired I settled with Wendy's (as far as I know, there aren't any Wendy's in Aus, or at least Sydney). The guy was very confused when I asked for chips, "you want... juice?". Haha I have to remember the American words for things. Also they were shooting a TV show outside as well. I overheard the following conversation between a girl passing by and a guy from the film crew:

Girl: "What you guys filming?"
Guy: "TV show called White Collar"
Girl: "Anyone important in it?"
Guy: "Not really". 

Hehe. So not an overly exciting first night for me, as after that I went back to the hotel and watched NCIS to drown out all the cars beeping until I fell asleep (it was a DiNozzo marathon yay). Today I am catching up with a uni friend who has also come over for the conference. I am supposed to meet her near Times Square, so I guess I should work out where that is!

Feel free to give me some suggestions of where I should go while I'm here :)

P.S. Now I get to cross #11 off my 30 before 30 list. YAY!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Fear of Flying - Part 2: Causes

Why are some people afraid of flying whereas others have no problem with it? For me personally, I had a particularly turbulent flight once and quite a few people on the plane were visibly and audibly concerned (including myself and the friend I was sitting next to). However it can be for a whole host of reasons.

Sometimes it is a bi-product of having another anxiety problem, such as claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), acrophobia (fear of heights), or agoraphobia (fear of panic attacks in public). In these cases it's not flying in particular that is the issue, but more that being in a plane brings up these other problems. These issues would need to be tackled first, and then you might find that flying isn't so bothersome after that. As such it is probably outside the scope (at the moment) for me to talk about these in great length. Generally though, being a bit nervous about flying isn't a problem, but it's when it starts to interfere with your life (e.g. passing up on a job promotion because it would require frequent air travel, or not going to a loved one's wedding due to flying) that you know that you might need to do something about it. Here are some common reasons why people are afraid of flying...

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Fear of Flying - Part 1: Introduction

If you know me, or read this blog even semi-regularly, you'll know that I'm going to New York on Friday. The question I've inevitably been getting for the past couple of weeks has been: are you excited? 

I get to look at some famous landmarks, do tonnes of shopping, and meet some of my academic idols at the conference I'm going to - but honestly, the answer is NO. I'm not excited. In fact, I'm kind of dreading it. Once I'm over there I know it will be great, but it's the getting there (and back) that is the problem. It takes nearly an entire day on the plane to get from Sydney to NY (including a brief stop at LAX). Based on previous experiences I know I won't be sleeping much, or even reading or watching movies to distract myself. I'll be staring out the window and also carefully watching the flight attendant's faces for any signs of disaster (and constantly praying nothing bad happens)!

This might come as a bit of a surprise, considering I study psychology, and I know for a fact that this is an irrational fear. I have actually flown quite a few times - especially recently when Husband and I went to Europe for our honeymoon. Obviously, we were totally fine, and I actually did sleep a bit on the flight home through turbulence. However Husband was there the whole time so I could also check his face to see if he was worried, and he wasn't. This time, I'm totally by myself, and there is nobody to tell me I'm being irrational. Although I will tell myself that I'm sure (many times), I'm not very good at listening to myself!

So for my own preparation I'm writing a couple of posts (it was only going to be one but then I realised how much there is to cover) about why this is irrational and why I will almost definitely be fine. Hopefully if there are some people out there that have similar concerns I can help you a bit too. If you don't have problems flying, well either feel free to skip these posts, or keep reading so you can understand a bit more about the people who do, or just a bit more about fears and phobias in general.

Stay tuned...

Monday, 20 June 2011


So the lovely Kirsti from A Quick Succession of Busy Nothings had a competition on her blog (check it out, it's great), and I won! The prize was to be sent some of her homemade oatmeal choc-chip cookies. Yay! Husband was a little concerned that an internet person now knew our address, but considering we actually went to visit one of his internet friends when we were in England I don't think this argument sticks hehe. Anyway, I was quite excited on Friday to find the note from the post office saying I had a package waiting for me (don't worry, I didn't leave my keys in the mailbox this time). We recently moved, and so I didn't realise that our local post office is not open on Saturdays. I was a bit disappointed that I had to wait until today to pick up the package. When I picked it up this morning, this is what I found:

YUM. They are super tasty. Thanks so much to Kirsti (cookies entitle you to be allowed to come hide in the lab in event of zombie attack), and now I'll try to think of a way to pay it forward!

P.S. Kirsti please let me know if you want the container back hehe.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

My Experiment Worked!

...well kind of. I haven't finished collecting data yet (stupid saliva being a biohazard delaying my experiment), but since I have to present what I've got so far at the conference in NY I've had to analyse it already.

Professor Frink, my favourite nerd
And things actually happened! While you might expect that when you have a reasonable idea, and test it, that it should work out as expected, this actually happens a lot less than you'd think. Then you have to set out to look for why things didn't happen how you wanted. So for this to work is very exciting (well for me at least). In short (see here for longer explanation of my experiment), people that experienced a greater cortisol (stress hormone) change following watching a film, were more likely to have false memories of the film a week later. Also, those who experienced a greater cortisol change were also more likely to report more distress symptoms in the following week too. HOORAY! Well, not hooray for people having distress symptoms (nothing too bad don't worry), but considering I thought they'd be related and they are, I'm very happy. Hopefully that made sense and you can see why I'm excited.

Or you can see why I'm a giant nerd.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Husband Quotes

"Come look, it's the Paso doble!" 

I went out to the loungeroom to see Husband in my snuggie (yes I have one and I love it) on the lounge watching So You Think You Can Dance.


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

An update of sorts.

I don't have anything particularly gripping to share today, but more just a combination of tidbits of information (I don't think I've ever said tidbit in my life, so there you go).

So attractive...
If you look over at my 30 before 30 page, you'll see I've crossed another thing off my list! I vowed to wear my horrible banana coat out in public, and the other day I did. Husband and a few friends had quite the laugh, especially when I matched not only some road workers with their high visibility vests, but also the curb at a service station, which was painted yellow to make sure people don't fall. It was fun though. Still not sure I'd wear it seriously however.

Secondly, I've lost my wallet (I know I was joking about being an absent minded professor not that long ago, but this is a bit much)! Somewhere over the long weekend it must have fallen out of my bag. I didn't even realise until Monday. Pretty crummy since I have to get replacements of all my cards etc., and particularly bad timing since...

I'm going to NYC next week!! Next Friday, to be exact. Hooray, but also, AARGH! It is very soon and I'm still working on my data and talk (and trying to make sure all my cards get replaced). I'm still not really looking forward to the flights either. However stay tuned for a post soon about getting over fears of flying... it's probably mostly to convince myself but maybe it will help some other people too! 

Lastly, I have a Productive June update for you. June has been very productive so far, I really only have one day of procrastinating to report, and that was the day before the long weekend, which everyone pretty much just phones in anyway. Also, I was very excited to find out that Productive June has now taken off in a whole different department in the uni, thanks to a friend over there. They're displaying guilt-inducing posters and everything! HOORAY! is your Productive June going?

OK that's it for now. Sorry if that was particularly dull, but hey, the posts can't always be about the zombopocalypse (or can they...)!?

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Why the lab is a good place to go in event of ZOMBIE invasions...

For a few years now, I've put some serious thought into what I would do in case of a large scale zombie apocalypse. This was mostly due to the sudden increase in zombie themed movies coming out (in my opinion 28 Days Later = scary but cool, Dawn of the Dead = crappy, Shaun of the Dead = AWESOME). Add to this the recently failed rapture and the CDC's extremely useful guide for zombie-related emergencies and I think this is something we all need to consider carefully people. Need more convincing? I suggest you check out THIS.

Thus, behold my list of reasons as to why laboratories are great places to go when zombies start roaming the streets:

Friday, 10 June 2011

Kitten riding tortoise. That is all.

Happy Friday!! I dare you not to get the song stuck in your head...

Yet again more thanks to AR. Do you do any work!? :P

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Orange playdough man

I have yet another passive-aggressive note to share with you. This appeared on the microwave in our PhD office kitchen a little while ago.

click to enlarge
A few thoughts:
1. There are no cameras.
2. Orange 'playdough' man!?
3. I wish there were cameras, I wanted to see the explosion!
4. I don't know who did it but I do have my suspicions...
5. The note mysteriously disappeared one day.
6. I did send this to and they've never shown it. WHYYYYYYY!!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

One day I could be a great absent-minded professor.

On the way to uni the other day I received a phone call. Much to my surprise, it was from the police station near my house. Obviously getting a call from the police can be a little unnerving. However I realised it was my friend, who is a policeman. I thought perhaps he was just playing a prank and just wanted a friendly chat about something until this:

Him: So - have you lost your keys?
Me: No... I don't think so *rummages around in bag, GASP* I have!

It turns out, checking the mail on my way to the train station that morning I was happy to find a phonecover I'd ordered from ebay had arrived! YAY. So I opened it up, put it on my phone and went on my way. Some really nice person later on saw my keys still sticking out of the mail box, took note of the address and went and handed them in at the police station. Thank God it was that person that found them and not somebody who decided to rob the place instead! Also, I'm told that usually what happens is people hand in keys, but if they don't know the address they go in the 'key drawer', usually never to be used again. Not many people think to go ask the police about their keys, but anyone turning up at the police for keys have the lucky task of searching through the drawer on the off-chance somebody handed them in.

I wish I had these Tiffany & Co. keys (though maybe I'd lose them too!)

I often tease my husband about his forgetfulness (he's lost keys and wallets on several occasions), but I knew I had to own up to this mishap since my friend now knows what a goober I am. I have grave concerns for any future children Husband and I may have!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

More spit please.

For those of you who couldn't get enough of it last time, I'm going to talk about spit again. So as a brief recap, in my experiment I collect spit from participants as a way of assessing whether they are stressed or not (more detail here). What I didn't tell you last time however, is that in Australia, saliva is considered a Risk Level 2 BIOHAZARD (insert suspenseful music and shrieking here). This means that a lot of extra precautions need to be considered when collecting it, and analysing it. So yet again I have to trek out to another uni for help analysing the samples after they've been irradiated (by using an ominous sounding thing called the cobalt cave), which I'm doing on Tuesday.

The funny thing is, anyone can spit on the ground (although it's generally frowned upon), but put spit in a tube at a university and it's a biohazard. I also had to go to biosafety course to learn about GERMS. Now, I was a bit of a germophobe in the past, but I was able to get over it mostly - I do catch public transport after all. However it is back with a vengeance baby.

Don't worry germ toys, we're still cool though.
Seriously WHEN is somebody buying me these!? You can get them HERE.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

WTH Wednesdays

World Beard and Moustache Championship; held in Trondheim, Norway.

Click here for SMH article and many more zany photos

Husband and his friends all seem to encourage each other to grow crazy (and hideous) beards and moustaches - much to the dismay of all the girlfriends/wives. This is right up their alley, which is probably why the friend that emailed me this said: "Don't tell [my husband]!"

Seen something weird lately that made you think WTH (not F remember, I try to be PG here people)? Feel free to bring it up in the comments and I may end up featuring it. Or nothing's stopping you from making your own WTH Wednesdays posts too :)

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