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Tuesday, June 21, 2005
I know kung fu.
 
Having taken the first of my finals on Monday, I decided that I deserved a few hours break from the real world. And that is how I came to be watching poorly subtitles kung fu movies this afternoon.

I started off with Kung Fu Hustle, a wonderful tale of the extraordinary powers hidden in a small housing complex in Shanghai. When the 'Axe Gang' comes and tries to take over, the residents pull together and find a number of old Kung Fu masters living among them. Intertwining the love story of a mute girl and a criminal turned good guy Kung Fu master of the Buddhist Palm, the story has intense bouts of side splitting comedy (aided by interesting subtitling), and a few misty eyed moments that all come together to make this movie one of the best kung fu movies I've ever seen. Of course, at that point I hadn't seen the next one that was on my list.

Shaolin Soccer followed shortly thereafter. Although the quality was not perfect, and the subtitles were never correct, it was another hilarious look into the world of kung fu. A down and out soccer player meets a poor Shaolin kung fu monk who wants to spread the ways of Shaolin to the world. With an idea to use soccer as his method, he recruits his Shaolin brothers, who have all had a run of bad luck, for his team. Again mixed with a love story where outer beauty is defined by inner thoughts, the movie spirals upwards to an exciting climax where wonderful special effects and fully developed characters come together to show that individual wekanesses can be overcome, even in the face of adversity, through teamwork. Another highly enjoyable film, it left me wondering which one I liked better.

In the end I think I would give a slight nod to Kung Fu Hustle for the story line, while Shaolin Soccer would win for character development and special effects. Comedically I can't decide, although the subtitles on Shaolin were so absurd that they enhanced the viewing experience in many ways.

Alright, that's my movie roundup for the week. I'm off to Brisbane on Thursday, so probably you won't hear from me much until I get back to Sydney on July 4th.

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Saturday, June 11, 2005
The things that change
 
I just found out via a few jumps from todays Random Wiki that the Garden State Parkway just opened up the new full speed express EZ-Pass lanes, as well as making several of the tolls one way only (at 70 cents each). While it's good to know that NJ is helping to relieve the congestion on the parkway, I'm actually more shocked that I didn't hear about this before now. When I was home I definitely didn't get any sense that there was construction going on at the toll plazas just a few miles away, so to know that 6 months later they have completely (or at least partially in some places) rebuilt them is quite a shock. Now I just have to see what they look like for myself.

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Friday, June 10, 2005
Class warfare
 
So I'm once again at that stage in my life when classes are finished, but there is still plenty of work to do before I'm well and truly done. What's left on my plate is as follows: my Major Assignment for Electromedical Standards - a group project on the wonders of body impedance, finals in both Electromedical Standards and Advanced Polymer Technologies, and of course my Masters Research Paper, where the experiments are almost done, and the paper writing fun is still to come. Hard to believe it will be over in a couple more weeks. And even more amazing is the fact that it's already been two years since I last felt like this at Northwestern.

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Thursday, June 02, 2005
Olfactory anguish
 
Every once in a while we all feel like we've done enough for the day and just need to go out and relax for a bit. Everyone has their own destressor, be it a pub, a run, a nap, or in my case a stroll down to the beach. Living a mere 15 minute walk from Coogee beach has made it a great place to take a quick walk to when I just need to take a breather and do a little people watching on the side. There are always a few others on the beach and in the water, even now, as winter swiftly approaches. And there are always several there that you know are doing the same as you, and you can share a knowing smile as you watch the ebb and flow of the passing people, and listen to the gentle roll of the tide as it crawls up the beach.

The only thing that is missing from the picturesque scene is the smell of the ocean. The salty spray of the Atlantic to which I have grown accustomed over many years is sadly lacking on the western side of the Pacific. At first I thought it might be a seasonal smell, as New Jersey beaches are usually visited only during the summer, but the closest smell I've gotten down here in a year and a half was just a bit of brine, which vanishes as soon as I attempt to inhale deeply. Maybe it is due to the small crescent beaches, measued in meters instead of miles, or possibly it is due to the varied locals who reside under the oceans waters in this part of the world, but regardless, it just doesn't really smell like the ocean to me. It's a little thing, but its something that is definitely missed.

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