Monday, November 28, 2005

The eye of the tiger...

A big shout out to quasi-Dr Andrew Hines as he has now handed in his thesis and just started a post-doc at UBC in sunny Vancouver. To celebrate, he has started a new blog, Eye of the Tiger.

It's fair to say that he is risen up, and back on the streets...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Evil Dick!

This is funny. Whereas Tim from Road to Surfdom has turned it into pure comedy gold. I think Tim should be writing for the Onion...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Email Barnaby

If you aren't cool with the Howard government's proposed "Work Choices" industrial relations legislation, you might want to go to this website and send an email to Senator Barnaby Joyce.

Do this especially if you are a Queenslander and point out that he is representing you and that you don't want him to vote for this legislation. I did.

I'm living in a Christmas movie...

So it started snowing on Friday and it still hasn't stopped. Coincidently, the Innsbruck Christmas markets also began on Friday, and they lit the city's Christmas lights and decorations for the first time. The whole city has been transformed into some Christmas winter wonderland. It feels a little like I'm living in the Santa's workshop section of Myers, except the white stuff everywhere is not made out of some polycarbon but is instead cold and wet.

To give you all an idea (and like I promised, this is what it looked like from my front door yesterday morning:

and this is what the driveway looked like:

As I mentioned earlier, the Christmas markets started on the weekend. These were something pretty foreign to me, we don't really do anything like this in Brisneyland. Basically, from now until Christmas there are markets in the center of town that sell arts and crafts and stuff. More importantly, they sell gluhweine, rum punch, and all sorts of interesting traditional foods as well. For the most part the markets seem to be an excuse for most of the town to stand around in the snow drinking booze naturally I decided to give it a go :-).

Here is a photo of my Canadian mate, Kris Luttmer, eating some special Tirolean Christmas food. It's basically a big donut served sauerkraut in it (definitely weird, but it tasted surprisingly good):

Friday, November 18, 2005

Eight reasons why Howards IR reforms are a scam

Michael Costello in the Oz has done a good job of debunking eight myths about John Howard's planned industrial relations law changes. Anyone who has any opinion at all on the matter should read his article carefully.

Oh, I got pointed to this article by this post at Road to Surfdom. By the way, has anyone else noticed that Tim has writing like a man possesed in the last week?


Like I said, IT'S SNOWING!!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

By popular request...

Here is the original version of the photo in the header, the one without the fancy cropping work...

West Wing on the ABC!

Just read in the latest Crikey that the West Wing will be shown on the ABC. Apparently they bought the rites off Chanel Nine and will soon start screening the entire series from the first episode. A definite must watch for anyone interested in politics.

The picture in the header

I took this picture,

while walking to work the other day. It was pretty much the last day of Autumn here in Innsbruck, well at least so I thought. Today isn't too bad, but we are expecting snow tonight and then it's going to continue to come down for the next week or so. You should see the same landscape now, pretty much every dark bit in this photo is now snow covered!

I look different

Okay, I've wasted a bunch of time making a new template. I hope people like it.

Oh yea, I can hack CSS now...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Is it time for a template change?

I'm doing a poll, is it time for me to change my blog's template?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Escaping from Winter (for a while)

For those of you that don't already know, I'm going to be making the trek home to Bris Vegas for Christmas. I'm arriving on the 7th 8th and staying until boxing day.

I'm heading home for a few reasons:
  1. To see my family and friends!!!
  2. To do work with these guys.
  3. To attend my graduation ceremony.
  4. Well, obviously, for Christmas.
It will be so great to catch up with my mates. I'm really looking forward to it. Not to mention looking forward to the beach, pies, bundy rum, New Farm, The Valley, West End, Straddie, the English language, warm weather, pluggers, good coffee, half-decent frisbee,...

Oh, and before I go home I'm going to Germany for a week to work with these guys.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Politics is boring me. Really, it is.

I think the title says it all. At the moment, politics is boring the hell out of me. This is weird for me, it really is. I'm feeling uber-apathetic about the whole political process. Maybe I should be in the federal Labor party?
Seriously, I'm really sick of John Howard winning all the time. The industrial relations laws are a farce, but they'll go through and people will love Howard for making there lives significantly worse. The terror laws went through, so now howard can get the praise for hard work that was done by the police leading up to the arrest of 16 suspected terrorists yesterday. I am really failing to see the point in blogging about politics at all. It doesn't seem to make any difference, especially seeing as so many blogs seem to be occupied by partisan hacks stoushing away about the same old bored topics.
At least, while I'm feeling sorry for myself and my battered set of political beliefs, some people are doing some great political writing in plog land. I'm becoming a fan of Desert Pea, a new blog that seems to be refreshingly intelligent and devoid of the typical partisan name calling crap that occupies so many blogs. I've also become a fan of AnonymousLefty, it's an oldish blog but I thought I'd throw it a bone because it always seems to be able to make me laugh (Oh yea, the author, Mr Lefty, is also an author of BOLTWATCH). I've just blogrolled both of these blogs.

Friday, November 04, 2005

100! Happy birthday to me!!!

Ok, so I just realized that today is my blog's birthday.
I also realized that I was 4 posts shy of 100 so I thought I'd speed things up a little so that I could celebrate 100 posts and this blog's birthday at the same time.
So, 1 year ago I posted this article. I also posted this one too, I think I like it better because it has a photo of my old beanie that I lost in a drunken taxi-ride incident about 6 months ago.
It's been a weird year. When I started this blog I was in the middle of writing my PhD thesis. Now, I'm a big grown-up postdoc living on the other side of the planet. I've seen and done a lot in this time, some of which has made it to this blog, some of which hasn't. I try not to think too much about how much my life has changed in this time. I get pretty dizzy just trying to piece it all together.
So where am I at now? What am I thinking about today? Well, I woke up this morning and Innsbruck was turning on a spectacularly clear morning. I could walk outside and see for miles. It was pretty spectacular scenery too; little villages up in the hills, the forests which are all shades of red and yellow, and the taller mountains were tipped with snow.
Walking to work I could see that a lot of the trees have already lost their leaves. This afternoon, the skies are grey and I'm thinking that I better get out there and buy myself some winter clothes before the snow starts to fall. I guess that is my plan for this weekend.
I wonder how I'm going to cope with the winter? I've lived my whole life in Brisbane, this whole winter thing is extremely foreign to me. The sun here doesn't come up until 7 or later now, it goes down again at 5. It gets so dark so early that I feel like I should be leaving work at 3 in the afternoon. I think I'm going to find this all quite weird.


Almost there...




Thursday, November 03, 2005

The White Stripes rock!

Last Saturday night Sarah and I went to see the White Stripes play in Duesseldorf. They absolutely rocked! They were as tight, and energetic as they were when I saw them in 2003. I think the only difference was that Jack seems to be a bit tubbier than he was back then.

It was a great night, it began with me and Sarah knocking down a bottle of Malibu between us on the way to the gig. It is both a great and a horrible thing that you are allowed to drink anywhere in public in Germany and Austria. On Saturday it was a great thing. We shared the bottle between us on the train trip from Moenchengladbach (where Sarah's apartment is) to the concert.
We got to the gig about half-an-hour before the support act, the Greenhornes, got on stage. Because we were there early we were given these little red wristbands that allowed us to come and go from the mosh pit all night! That was totally cool, it meant that we were about 10 to 15 metres from the stage the whole night.
Anyway, the support played for a half hour, then Meg and Jack white came on and rocked the hall for 1 and a half hours. I couldn't remember the playlist if I tried. I do remember that there seemed to be a lot more stuff from "Elephant" and "Get behind Me Satan" than from the earlier albums. I guess that's not really so surprising though.
I think the only downer of the night was that there were some drunken idiots that didn't know how to dance around up the front without hurting people. I guess though that you always get this at gigs by popular bands. Still, it was a White Stripes concert, not Rancid...
Anyway, like I promised, here are some pics from the gig. I think they were all taken by Sarah, I think I was too drunk to take any good ones :-).

Jack playing right in front of us

Meg looking awesome as always singing "In the cold, cold night".

Meg and Jack just rocking out.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Austrian nationals

Alright, first things first, I finally have my new computer! I’m currently bashing away at my keyboard on a high-speed german train enroot to my girlfriends place which is near Duesseldorf. My old lappy could no longer handle such difficult circumstances, the battery’s ability to hold charge long ago faded.

Anyway, back on topic. It’s been a helluva week ulti-fans. Back home in Oz they just held mixed-nats, and just before my customary sprint to the train station I had an email in my inbox from Al telling telling my that Bootius Maximus got 3rd place and the Lovers had pulled 7th! I was so stoked to hear this!!!! I guess all that training for worlds next year is beginning to pay dividends.

Well, while my mates back home were running around fields in Adelaide, I was running around fields in a town called Ried, which is a bit more than a drivers huck from the city of Linz in Austria. I was playing at the Austrian nationals with my city’s team, The Flying Circus. The Circus had managed to rustle up an open and a womens team for the tourney. I met a bunch of nice people at the tournament. I met Heidi-Marie, who was an American playing for the “Spin” women’s team. She was a lot of fun and tried to keep my spirits up a bit when my team was busy getting pasted (I especially liked the “Go on. Show me something special”. Then she missed a great layout-d of mine at a pivotal point of one match!). I also got to catch up with the team from Graz, “Catchup”. Those guys are always fun to hang out with and I absolutely love watching them play. They remind me a lot of the teams back home.

I also had a great time with many players on my team. They really are a friendly bunch of people. The party was super. It took a while to get going, but once a sufficient amount of booze was downed the dancefloor was packed with hot’n’sexy ultimate folk looking to boogie. Arno, our captain was kicking it till the wee hours showing all us young-uns how it’s done. Oh yea, me and Kris (a new Canuck in our team) had a great drunken layout session using some gymnastic mats and a trampoline (actually, that’s how we met Heidi-Marie, she thought it looked like fun. She was right!).

Well, I’d love to say that during the tournament we totally kicked ass, but we didn’t. The open team won 3 out of 7 games and placed 11th of 15. Though the women managed to pull 4th place, I was really happy about that.

I had a good time, don’t get me wrong. I like my team, they are a great bunch of people. They are fun to party with (especially the lasses), and they all really care about each other. The problem is, that we don’t have anything like the depth of the teams back in Oz, or for that matter the teams from the other cities in Austria. At a really good training session we’ll pull 20 or so people, that’s guys and girls. The skill level ranges from absolute beginner, to the ridiculously experienced. It is so hard to run a training session, talk tactics and even practice skills in such a way that can keep everyone happy. Normally, the sessions are pitched low, with the hope that the more experienced types won’t get too frustrated by this. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to work. Well, at least it isn’t working for me anymore.

At the moment I feel like my skills are beginning to stagnate. I’m not feeling pushed at all. When I’m playing in Innsbruck, I find that if I want to throw a break, I throw a break. If I want to make a cut, I get the disc. If I want to huck it, I can huck it. There aren’t a whole lot of experienced, or even intermediate players playing against me and pressuring me to play harder and better.

This was killing me on the weekend. Our level of tactical play was barely above the beginner level. Our intensity was a smidgen above that of a funday arvo pick-up. In the easy games, this wasn’t a problem.

Our team’s skill level is pretty high, there are a lot of good throwers and the fitness isn’t too bad. In the hard games, things turned haywire. Suddenly, the intermediate/experienced were being pushed (and, in reality, rarely by players that were any better than they were) and they began to panic. We started to throw the disc away a lot. We would try to switch-up the tactics only to find that we either all weren’t on the same page or the level of ulti-knowledge in the team was too low to implement the required changes to our game.

For me, things hit there worst when we were playing against Spin (one of the teams from Vienna). They weren’t too bad, they are also a really nice team (both the girls and the guys). We were getting pasted pretty much because our team didn’t know how to play zone offence. For those of you who played with me in Bris-Vegas, you would know that this would kill me. I used to live for zone. I don’t know why, it probably has something to do with my past life as a Rugby player. Anyway, I was totally pissed at my team. I was pissed with the experienced players because we were all disagreeing on what to do. I was pissed with the beginners because they had no idea what they were doing. I was pissed at myself because I was spitting the dummy.

Our team has been on the slide for a while. The beginners and intermediate players have never played in a good ultimate team. They have good players around them. Some of the experienced people here are as good as or better than anyone I ever played with in Brisbane. The problem is, that the experienced players are aging and can’t commit as much to the team as they used to. When you combine this with our small-player base it is no wonder that we are struggling.

This has been getting me down for ages. I have felt completely powerless to do anything at all about this. Part of the problem is that I don’t speak the language, and for this reason I feel like a lot of what I say is completely lost on people. For a long time I’ve just been resigned to play in a team that isn’t so great and to deal with getting pounded at tournaments – maybe I could just focus on winning the party? On the weekend though, something changed. At some point during that game against Spin I made up my mind. Either get better, and drag this team with me. Or get out.

For the time being I’m going with the first. I’m going to try to get better at my ulti, and I’m going to try to improve the level of play in the players around me. The only way I can think to do this is to start small. Many of the players will be a bit frightened of big changes. But they might barely even notice the small ones.

I already do a lot of fitness training on my own. Maybe I should start emailing the team list to tell them when I’m going for a run and invite others to join me? Maybe I could do the same with the gym or maybe initiate some small-group sprint workouts? I think maybe just organizing to go and have a throw (even in winter!) in the park regularly might change people’s mindset a little. Maybe I can talk to the more senior people in the team about contributing more to the training sessions?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think the only way our team is going to get better is if a few of us take the initiative to get it better. Personally, I know I can do more and that maybe I have to if I want to continue to develop as a player.