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August 2008

July 2008


Poster12 Poster2Monday and Tuesday night, I attended the poster sessions here at the conference.  Keep in mind, I know nothing about science.  However, I did pick my favorite two posters, and here they are.  I liked that their ideas were clearly laid out, there were plenty of pictures to accompany text, and there was just enough text that if you wanted to know more, you had to initiate a discussion.  There is another poster session tonight, so I will be checking that one out too. 

This week...

While Dave has been busy working this week attending talks and writing the meeting scene, I have been trying to keep myself occupied.  On Monday, I walked around the Queen Victoria Building, which is located directly across from our hotel and has four floors of cute boutique shops that unfortunately I could not afford.  Yesterday, I walked down to Chinatown.  It wasn't a very large area and didn't have much to see or do.  I would not recommend walking there, although it is fairly close to the Hilton.

Today, I took the ferry to Watsons Bay.  I walked around seeing the views of the harbour and ocean for a few hours.  This area has amazing houses, one more beautiful than the next.  (The only thing is ... I forgot my camera.  Sorry!)  However, there isn't much of a town to visit, and I don't necessarily think it was worth the trip.  You can get the same view from the Zoo, and at least there you get to see some animals too.

While I was there though, I did happen to see something very interesting.  The rescue police, a judge, lawyers, jury, and news stations were at The Gap, which is a rocky cliff overlooking the ocean.  By talking to an onlooker, I found out that they were there to study the crime scene of a murder that happened at that very location back in 1995.   I felt like I was in the middle of a TV show.  There is something very eerie about being in a beautiful location and knowing that something so terrible happened at that very spot.

More to come as it happens ... only 2 days left.

Conference Day 2

So we have just wrapped up the second day of the conference, and it is has been a great experience so far.  I have been covering Syposium E, G, Q, and H, which all deal with topics that are different than my own research.  While it makes reporting on them a little more challenging, it is definitely a chance to learn about some new and exciting research areas.  For example, today I attended talks on organic photovoltaics and energy storage devices, which are both extremely relevant with increasing energy costs.  Of course, you can check out the MRS Meeting Scene for more information.

As an aside, I have found most things to be a little more expensive in Sydney than I am used to in Chicago.  However, just north of the Hilton on George St., there is a great sushi place with rolls that are relatively inexpensive.  It seems to be popular with the locals, and I have enjoyed it for lunch the past two days.

Some more Sydney things

Just wanted to share some pictures of the Blue Mountains and the Taronga Zoo.  There are some beautiful lookouts at the Blue Mountains for pictures.  This picture is of the Three Sisters rock formation with the Jameson Valley in the background.  The Blue Mountains get their name from the blue haze that you can see in the picture.  This blue haze is the result of eucalyptus tree oils in the atmosphere.


At the Taronga Zoo, they have about every animal you can imagine.  As we are in Australia though, they have a number of koala and kangaroo exhibits.  Even though koalas sleep most of the day, we were able to g et some of them moving about.  Additionally, the Taronga Zoo has some of the best views of Sydney that we have seen so far.  Here is a picture that we took showing the opera house, Harbour Bridge, and downtown Sydney. 





A few quick things. 

1)  If you have a full day to spare and want to do some sightseeing and hiking (better known in Australia as bushwalking), I would suggest going to the Blue Mountains.  Take the City Rail to Katoomba, and you can purchase the Explorer Bus ticket that takes you to all the best sights.  Look out for Echo Point (the best view) and "The Great Stairs" ... fyi, they are a killer on the legs.

2)  If you can only get away from the conference for a 1/2 day, head to the Taronga Zoo.  Great views and great animals.  You can catch a ferry at Circular Quay.  Did you know that koalas sleep approximately 20 hours a day?  And they are really, really cute in person.

3)  Last one.  If you want a great Spanish dinner (or tapas) that is reasonably priced, head to Casa Asturiana  (77 Liverpool St.).  Dave and I ate there last night, and it was delicious!!

Ok that is all for now.  Dave is currently at the conference, and I am going to do some shopping.  He will post later with more details and the pictures.

A few more things about Sydney

We spent our first few days in the Hunter Valley wine region, north of Sydney.  There are day tours that visit the Hunter Valley from Sydney, but we decided to rent a car at the airport and drive up the coast.  By driving ourselves, we were able to see more of the countryside and visit the small town of Nelson Bay.  Since Australians drive on the left side of the road, driving here took some getting used to.  However, it definitely got easier with time.  Also, driving in Sydney can be a real challenge, as there are many one way streets in the city center.  In addition, many of the toll roads require electronic tags for payment.  This can be a real hassle, as you have to just pass through and then call a phone number within 24 hours to pay.

We have now been in Sydney for a few days and have been able to see a fair amount of the city.  Yesterday, we did the Sydney Bridge Climb, which was well worth the time and money.  Afterwards, we stayed in The Rocks area of the city and checked out two local pubs, Lord Nelson’s Brewery and The Hero of Waterloo.  Both pubs are some of the oldest in Sydney and had plenty of atmosphere.  In addition, as a brewery, Lord Nelson’s had a number of unique beers to choose from. 

Today, we took a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly beach.  The area around Manly beach was very nice with lots of shops and restaurants.  Unfortunately, the weather was not very cooperative, as it was cold, rainy, and overcast.  In fact, while watching the news, we discovered that today was the coldest Sydney day in the past two years.  The other nice part about visiting Manly is the ferry ride, which provides some of the best views of the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and city center.


Australia thus far ...

Hello All!

We have been without internet access since we have gotten to Australia.  In fact, we are now paying $2 to use an internet kiosk for 21 minutes.  Anyway … we started our trip with an amazingly long flight from Chicago to Los Angeles to Sydney.  I found the most amazing invention ... a head rest built right into the seat.  Great!  I wonder why these aren’t on all planes.

Chloe_pic_2When we arrived, we rented a car and drove to Thistle Hill, a bed and breakfast located in the Hunter Valley wine country.  My favorite part about this B&B was the “pet” kangaroo Chloe.  We were able to get within one foot of her – adorable (see pic).  We did go on a wine tour, which I would suggest if you have extra time.  The vines are all being cut back and there are no leaves or grapes because it is winter, but the mountains and views are spectacular anyway. 

When we got back to Sydney we took a day to walk around Darling Harbour, which is a touristy area with nice restaurants.  Note:  whether you are in Darling Harbour or elsewhere in Australia, be ready to spend at least $15-20 per lunch and $20-30 for dinner, not including your beverage.  Even coffee is expensive, about $4 or 5.00 for a small. 

Bridge_with_peopleWe also did the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb.  We booked it online, and it was expensive ($179) … but totally worth it.  Once you are at the top, you have an amazing 360 degree view of the entire city.  There are two different climbs, both are explained online.  The whole thing takes about three hours.  You aren’t allowed to take your own camera, but you can buy the pictures afterward from them.  If you look closely, you can see the bridge climbers in this picture.  You walk up the one side to the flag, across, and back down the other side.

Overall, I do like Sydney thus far.  However … it is cold!!!  Winter weather for sure.  We walked around today, and I was wearing a long sleeve shirt, sweater, track jacket and scarf.  Bring warm clothes, especially if you want to just walk around the city.  In addition, there has been rain the past two days.  Bring an umbrella.  It is a great city with a lot to offer, but it does seem dreary on days like today.  Hopefully next week when you all arrive for the conference, the weather will improve a bit.  Tomorrow, Dave and I will be going to the Blue Mountains on a train.  We will keep you posted on that.  Until next time …

Looking forward to Sydney...

Img_01381_5 Hello!  My name is Carise Comstock ... wife of grad student Dave.  (That is us.)  We are super excited to be going to Sydney!  In fact, we have already planned some wonderful activities that we can't wait to share with you.  We will be spending two days in the Hunter Valley wine region, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, taking a day trip to the Blue Mountains, visiting with the kangaroos and koalas at the Taronga Zoo, and even attempting to surf at Manly Beach.  We will share pictures and stories galore.  Hopefully our experiences will help you plan a fun week in Sydney while attending the conference.  Feel free to post back and let us know your thoughts or questions ... we are happy to help!

2008 IUMRS-ICEM: Sydney, Australia

The week of July 28 - August 1, Sydney will be hosting the 2008 IUMRS-ICEM meeting.  My name is David Comstock, and I will be there covering the week for the MRS Meeting Scene.  Currently, I am a graduate student in Materials Science at Northwestern University.  Working in Mark Hersam's group, my focus is on the development of new atomic force microscopy probes for characterizing electrochemical and biological activity.  The meeting should provide plenty of interesting talks and exposure to a variety of fields that I am not yet familiar with, so I am really looking forward to the week.

While I will be covering the meeting, I will also be taking the week before to see the sights in and around Sydney.  In fact, my wife will be accompanying me on this trip, and you may even see some posts from her while we are there.  We are leaving from Chicago tomorrow evening.  While we are not looking forward to the long flight, we can't wait to touch down in Sydney and start reporting back on the meeting and all of the fun things Sydney has to offer.