Earlier today, I was watching one of my friends trying to get a video playing on their computer. First there was no sound, then no video, then sound but blurred colors behind it. Not exactly what they were trying for. I helped poke and prod a bit, but it seemed like there was nothing we could do. It had been saved as an .avi file, instead of a more friendly .mp4 or .mov, which I wouldn't mention were it not for the fact that when this was pointed out, someone actually asked me, "So, what is an .avi file?"
I honestly hadn't a clue.
I'm not trying to point out my own ignorance, but rather emphasize that the more complicated our technology gets, the less and less we really know about it, and how it works. I call tell you which files will and will not import in Final Cut Pro, but most of the time I can't tell you why that is. I can tell you that recording on a Vixia camera involves a ration of roughly 1 GB per minute of filming, but why that is remains a mystery. The list goes on, and I know I'm not the only person in the office that encounters this from time to time.
Remember Crocodile Dundee? He was the Australian guy who visited America and looked goofy. He wielded a large bowie knife to fight crime. He wore a coat made of Crocodile skin instead of cow hide. And in one of his odder moments Down Under, he dressed up as a kangaroo and shot at kangaroo hunters. As I wrap up my last night in Australia, I reflect on what I’ve learned from my time here – and how I’ve stuck out like a sore thumb.
To stick out isn’t a big deal. It happens all the time. When I open my mouth, I stick out because others know I’m not Australian. Then there are my frequent questions about all things Australian. “When was the Opera House Built?” (Answer: 1960s) “What does kangaroo taste like?” (Answer: Gamy if it’s anything but rare). “How do you avoid getting knocked on your back by the waves when you’re swimming in the ocean? (Answer: Dive under the swell instead of trying to jump over it) No big deal. Definitely not as cool as Crocodile Dundee.
Take seven people and put them in a line. They can be from anywhere. One is from Papua New Guinea, another is from Kentucky, a third person is from Australia, and so on. What will these seven people have in common? One of the people will have a connection to another person in the line. Every person in the world is connected to each other within six degrees of separation. It isn’t just Kevin Bacon who is connected to others. You are too.
From this perspective, it’s hard to get surprised when you find that you’re connected to others. Yet, today I felt that same sense of shock at how easy it is to find people with whom you have a connection. The story is a short one, but I like it.
What television shows remind you of your early childhood? I grew up in the 1980s, which makes reruns of The Cosby Show, Family Ties, and Cheers all qualify as nostalgic programming. As I left the office today, I felt as if I was living part of the theme song from Cheers: “You want to go where everybody knows your name.”
Today began my long goodbye to Australia. Although I’ll be here another two full days, it was my last day at the office. It’s been a terrific time. When I arrived, I had three work-related objectives. First, I needed to give a research talk and a writing workshop. I got them out of the way last week, and they were a blast. Second, I wanted to build a stronger collaborative relationship with my host, Tom. Check! We have one new paper ready to be written and two more in the wor
Have you ever had your heart set on something, only to have your hopes crumble before your eyes? Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, we all experience setbacks. When I went to college, I was convinced that I would become a famous musician. One difficult, and highly unsuccessful, semester later, I was confronted with the fact that I didn’t have what it took to major in music. I found another love – psychology – and have spent the better part of the past 14 years trying to uncover the mysteries of the mind.
Today brought another opportunity for resiliency my way. Since I arrived in Sydney, my host Tom said we had to eat a famous dish served at a nice local restaurant. The famous dish is a pig’s head. I’ve never eaten pig head before, nor had I thought about it. But A&S Wired co-Directors Cristina Alcalde and Jeff Rice keep encouraging me to have a more adventurous diet. So when Tom asked if I wanted to eat pig head, I channeled my inner Cristina and Jeff: “Sure, I’ll try it,” I said. I was in.
Every year it happens. I gasp when I receive the email. I never remember when it starts, but I always remember when it ends. Yes, I’m talking about the NCAA tournament – and about the special bracket tournament that some of my colleagues at Kentucky take part in every year. We get an email reminder, followed by a flurry of activity when people assemble their predicted winners and losers in a neat, sideways pyramid.
After filling out my bracket yesterday, I could barely contain myself. Would I have the best picks this year? Can Murray State really do that well in the NCAA tournament? Will Syracuse fall when I think they will? Armed with my enthusiasm, I went to a nice dinner with some colleagues and their friends. Two of the people at dinner were from America, so I assumed we could trade our picks for the upcoming Big Dance.
“I’m so excited for this year’s NCAA tournament,” I said to my American colleague. “It’s huge back in Kentucky.”
“Is that starting up now? I wasn’t paying attention,” he responded.