jrising: (zen)
The New York Times has an op-ed today about that argues "Psychology Is Not in Crisis, in response to the response to a paper that tried and failed to reproduce 60 of 100 psychology experiments. I have been thinking for a long time about the importance of falsifiability in science, and the role of the many kinds of research we do in light of it.

I was recently re-perusing Collins et al. 2010, which purports to address the need for an integrated approach to environmental science, with a new conceptual framework. The heart of the framework is the distinction between "pulse" and "press" dynamics. I do not want to explain the difference here though. I want to know if we learn something from it.

Knowledge comes in many forms. There's empirical knowledge, facts about the world that we know could not have known until they were observed; analytical knowledge, resulting from the manipulation of logical constructs; and wisdom, inarticulable knowledge that comes from experience.

The Collins et al. paper uses analysis, but it proves no theorems. But of course analysis can be a powerful tool without mathematical analytics. Recognizing multiple parts of a whole can open doors in the mind, and provide substance to a question. Nonetheless, the criteria for science of the usefulness of analysis is, does it allow us to learn something we did not already know? Knowing that fire is a pulse dynamic while climate change is a press dynamic could come in handy, if these categories added additional knowledge.

I claim that papers like this do not try to teach analytical knowledge, although they focus on a piece of analysis. Their goal is to expand our wisdom, by giving it shape. The distinction is not tied to anything we did not already know about fire and climate change. Like a professor who notices two things being conflated, the paper tries to expand our vocabulary and through it our world. Alas, it is exactly the wherewithal to shape our conceptual world that constitutes the wisdom sought. Pulse and press dynamics are one nice distinction, but there are so many others that might be relevant. Having a distinction in mind of pulse and press dynamics is only useful if I can transcend it.

Knowledge builds upon itself, and naturally bleeds between empirics, analysis, and wisdom. I am not a psychologist, but I presume that they are seeking knowledge in all of its forms. The discovery that 60 empirical building blocks were not as sure as they appeared does not undermine the process of science in psychology, and indeed furthers it along, but I hope that it undermines psychology-the-field, and the structure of knowledge that it has built.
jrising: (zen)
I've spoken elsewhere of the way that grad-student life can crowd out real human connections, interests, and awareness. While life as a postdoc seems better, I've discovered a new, longer-term struggle around human connections and academics. This post is to apologize for the cross-chatter of research that you'll see if you follow me in mixed-company social networks (presently, Twitter).

The academic is a sole entrepreneur, treading water in the sea until you catch enough driftwood to build your own boat. Well, it doesn't need to be that isolating, but the stakes are as high and the self-reliance as complete. Communicating one's work is a part of the job that has no clean boundaries.

When I post about research, it isn't meant for most of my friends, and it isn't a reflection of my passions outside of work. I do it as a signal to the academic world, and my public persona gets caught in the crossfire.

I will keep posting my non-work (read: non-academia) life here, at least at the trickle I have been. If you do want both, or to do your own filtering, feel free to follow my Food for Thought blog, which automatically draws from both the social and research streams.
jrising: (zen)
I'm now settled into a studio just south of the UC Berkeley campus. With a built-in secretary, a lock on just the bedroom side of the door to the kitchen, and a tight service stairway out of the kitchen, the apartment feels bizarrely colonial.

I'm only sometimes here though. I was just in NYC for a week, and I fly back for another week on Monday. After some prodding at my going-away party, I'm going to take these trips as an opportunity to get back into a little D&D. Here's the idea for my nascent campaign:

The year is 500 BCE, and the Persian Empire is the crossroads of the world. This is not quite the ancient Persia of history books: it is a place of wonders and legend and secret crafts. But times are changing, whispered by sages and hinted in strange news from distant lands. They say that new gods are coming, old gods will fall, and it is time for everyone to collect their allies close for the coming chaos.

I've also been having some fun with GIS, to combine fantasy and history:
jrising: (zen)
I've been busy! In the last month, I have collected an appalling list of achievements which mean much to the world and very little to life as I live it.

First, I am a doctor, as of May 20. Not a real doctor, and Flame won't let me wear a stethoscope anyway. But my program in sustainable development is officially over. Interestingly, this is nothing like job changes I have had before: I still work on the same projects and attend the same meetings with the same people. But in theory, I am now unemployed, and I will soon be a UC Berkeley employee with similarly slight impacts.

Second, I can now drive a car. Of course, I could before, and have been acceptably competent at it for the past six months. But the winter is a horrible time to take a road test, and New York City is a horrible place for one. My license was finally approved on Monday. I have yet to experience the joys or sorrows of driving alone, but I hear California is great for that.

I have also finished my Hepatitis A and B shot series and gotten a new Yellow Fever vaccination. I think I was already immune with the first shots, and only people who lose their international immunization card need a second Yellow Fever vaccine, but now I have paperwork for all three. And, twelve years out, I am not quite done with my student loans, but with $101.58 left, I might as well be.

Flame and I are now ensconced in a tiny apartment on the corner of Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Officially we have had the apartment for over a month, but we just changed residences last week. So, I suppose with all of the nominal changes, there are a few real ones too. It has been an exciting journey! But some time I will need at least a nominal vacation.
jrising: (zen)
About a decade ago, I got a 3.5" floppy reader for my laptop, and every so often I've gone through a pile of disks seeing if anything is still readable and worth saving. I think those days are over-- a metal disk protector is now stuck in the reader, and all the software available for Windows to read mac disks appears to be broken or commercial.

But my most recent pile brought back memories of many happy hours of simple and elegant games. Some day I'll write about my latterday favorites (Armor Alley, Dark Castle, Prince of Persia) or the less-actiony BBS and World Builder games I also loved, but right now I'm remembering some space games that brought a particular joy.

Crystal Quest


Probably a precursor to Asteroids, a game made progressively more difficult by space creatures that appear first as curiosity, and eventually with furosity.

Continuum


A space game of puzzles, with a big library of widgets, and a builder of new levels.
jrising: (zen)
Sometimes I think that research is more like mining than maze-solving. Like art (I imagine), the gems that we are able to bring forth are buried inside of us. Each of us stands on a vast mineral deposit, the accumlated layers of our experiences and our unconscious foundation. By our 30's, we've learned to grow a harvest in our top-soil, but we've also had a chance to dig deeper and get a sense of that wealth. One of the challenges of life is to ensure that we get to keep digging under our own feet.


From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

Some people pan for precious metals; others plan out whole quarries of ore. Research techniques (and philosophical modes, literary critique, drawing technique, etc.) allow us to mine at will, but each works best on certain kinds of stone. You can dig shallow, and strike oil or gas able to propell you through the economic world. You can dig deep, and get unique and precious gems, metamorphized by the heat and pressure of the unconscious mind. If you dig too deep, you hit an inpenetrable bedrock.

Me, I look for geodes. Each of these rough stones contains a cavity filled with crystals. You can tell a geode by its face, but you never know what's inside until you break it open. I don't like throwing away research projects, even if I don't have time for them, because I still want to break them open. On the other hand, I know that the more I dig, the more geodes I can find. And so, I can choose to leave gems in the ground, waiting at unforetold depths.
jrising: (zen)
I love New Years resolutions. A ritual opportunity to adjust the choices that make up life. Like everyone, I struggle (read: give up frequently) on them, but part of the joy is to understand that process and resolve better.

I'm expecting a big semester, starting soon: my Complexity Science course, bigger and better; finishing my thesis; being substantively involved in three large projects and several small ones; and getting a job. My theory of organization this time is to schedule-- my work days are specified to the hour on the projects I hope to finish by the end of the semester:
schedule

My resolutions are mostly following the same idea, recognizing time less as a limiting factor than as an organizing principle:

  • Additional morning exercise (15 min. / week)

  • Personal or professional blogging (30 min. / week)

  • Review my colleagues interests and activities (30 min. / week) [next year follow-up: usefully encode my network]

  • Write to distant friends (30 min. / week)

  • Deep reflection on goals and activities (1 hr. / week)

  • Go for a hike outside the city in every month [next year follow-up: hike the same trail every month of the year]

  • Read a journal cover-to-cover every week [next year follow-up: become a regular reader of one journal]

jrising: (zen)
Mad Libs edition: PDF
jrising: (zen)
I made this animated beaker of words for a new initiative of Flame's. Well, I didn't make the beaker itself-- that was the work of Moran Goldstein. And the words themselves are from a story of Flame's (but it's set up to take words from any bucket).



Also see the live version.
jrising: (zen)
My girlfriend uses a "Moka Express"-style stovetop Bialetti espresso-maker most mornings for her cappuccino. These devices are wonderful, reliable, and simple, but they have a nearly fatal flaw. A basin collects the espresso as it condenses, and for the five minutes before the steam brewing happens, there will be no indication of anything happening. Then espresso will start to quietly gurgle up, and if you don't stop the process in the 20 seconds after it starts, the drink will be ruined.

I built a simple device to solve this problem. It has two wires that sit in the basin, and a loud buzzer that sounds as soon as coffee touches them.

setup1

How it works

Here is the circuit diagram for the coffee buzzer, designed to be powered by a 9V battery:

detector

The core of the coffee buzzer is a simple voltage divider. Normally, when the device is not in coffee, the resistance through the air between the two leads on the left (labeled "LOAD") is very high. As a result, the entire voltage from 9V battery is applied to that gap, so that the voltage across the 500 KΩ resistor is 0.

The IRF1104 is a simple MOSFET, which acts like a voltage-controlled switch. With no voltage across the resistor, the MOSFET is off, so the buzzer doesn't sound.

To turn the MOSFET on, the voltage across the 500 KΩ resistor needs to be about 2 V. As a result, anything between the two LOAD leads with a resistance of less than about 2000 KΩ will cause the buzzer to turn on.

resistance

Coffee resistance seems to vary quite a bit, and the 137 KΩ shown here is on the low end. For this, you need a resistor of at least 40 KΩ. I suggest using something higher, so the detector will be more sensitive.

What you need

Tools

You will need wire-strippers, a multimeter (to check your circuit), and a soldering iron (to put everything together).

strippers multimeter solder

Parts

wire2

These wires will be the main detector of the coffee buzzer.

resistor

Here I use a 1500 KΩ resistor, so the buzzer will sound for resistances less than 5000 KΩ will be detected. Make sure that you use a resistor of more than 300 KΩ.

mosfet

The MOSFET is a voltage controlled switch, and it's what allows the buzzer to get plenty of current even though there's a lot of resistance for current moving through the coffee.

connector buzzers battery

You can get a 9V battery connector (top) and a buzzer (middle, rated for between 4 and 8 V) at RadioShack or from DigiKey. And, of course, the battery itself (not included).

Optional (but highly recommended!)

switch

A simple switch (which may look very different from this one) is a great way to build an integrity tester into the device itself.

breadboard

A breadboard will let you put the whole circuit together and test it before you solder it.

wires

Wires like these make plugging everything into a breadboard easier.

tape

I suggest taping up the whole device after you solder it, both for protection and to keep everything in one tight package.

How to make an Espresso Buzzer

Start by preparing the detector wires (the black and white wires above). Take at least 30 cm of wire, so the device can sit on the counter away from the flame. Use the wire stripper to strip one end of the wires for use in the circuit. You may want to strip the "detection" end, or not: if you leave the detector end unstripped, the buzzer won't go off prematurely when if both wires touch the bottom of the basin, but you'll have to wipe off the end of the wires to get them to stop buzzing once they have started.

Now connect all of the pieces on the breadboard. Here's one arrangement:

circuit-annotated

If you aren't sure how to use a breadboard or how to read a circuit diagram, you can still make the buzzer by skipping this step and soldering the wires together as specified below.

Once everything is connected on the breadboard, you should be able to test the coffee buzzer. If you use a switch, pressing it should make the buzzer sound. Then make a little experimental coffee, and dip the leads into the coffee to check that it works.

Next, solder it all together. As you can see in the circuit diagram, you want to solder together the following groups of wires:

  • Ground: The black wire from the battery connector; one wire from the resistor; and the source lead on the MOSFET (furthest right).

  • Power: The red wire from the battery connector; one wire from the buzzer; the (stripped) circuit end of one of the detector wires; and optionally one end of the switch.

  • Gate: The (stripped) circuit end of the other detector wire; the other end of the resistor; the gate lead on the MOSFET (furthest left); and optionally the other end of the switch.

  • Buzzer: The gate lead on the MOSFET (middle); and the remaining wire to the buzzer.



soldered

After you have soldered everything together, test it and then wrap tape around it all.

complete

The results

That's it! Now, to use it, place the detector leads at the bottom of the coffee basin. I suggest putting a bend into the wires a couple inches from the end, so they can sit easily in the basin. If you've stripped the ends, the buzzer may buzz when the leads touch the base, but if you just let them go at this point, one wire will sit slightly above the other and just millimeters away from the bottom for perfect detection.

setup2

As soon as the coffee reaches a level where both leads are submerged, the detector will start buzzing!

final1

Enjoy!

final2
jrising: (zen)
I don't understand how ISIS has instilled so much fear in so many people. ISIS is not a danger to us-- at least, compared to anything from heart disease to climate change-induced hurricanes. Is there a word for recognizing a danger, but choosing not to dwell on it?

Even in the sphere of international relations (and outside of environmental governance), I think there are far more important things to be concerned about. Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and its implications, for example.

The narrative around ISIS seems to have everyone believing that military action is imperative. I don't know if there's a "solution" to ISIS, but I think that military action against terrorist groups needs to be very carefully tempered with non-military relation-building.

Jeff Sachs wrote a recent op-ed on the use of military in the Middle East, titled "Let the Middle East Govern Itself". The message is,
The US cannot stop the spiral of violence in the Middle East. The damage in Libya, Gaza, Syria, and Iraq demands that a political solution be found within the region, not imposed from the outside. The UN Security Council should provide an international framework in which the major powers pull back, lift crippling economic sanctions, and abide by political agreements reached by the region’s own governments and factions.

Military action has not worked in the past. Why do we turn to it when we have nothing to fear?
jrising: (zen)
I love listening to pop music when I work, but I can't listen to anything with words when I'm reading or writing. And my life is supposed to be including a lot of that right now. At a time when I hoped to be building my Great Food Model, placing all my projects in a diorama with spotlights, I have been told instead to publish or perish. A man with many interests is not appreciated in academia, I'm told, without some beans to count.

I won't recite the litany of projects and goals, but a couple highlights might give a gist. First, I'm really excited because my proposal to research coffee has been accepted for funding, in the time it took me to read three books on the subject to fall in and out of love with the beverage. My paper on marine reserves went through a three week crisis, during which all the results seemed like mirages, but it was resolved yesterday. I keep promising one professor that his project is now my top priority, but the processing to generate its data has taken all summer, and now I wonder if one of the inputs invalidated the whole thing.

I've been trying to keep a strong boundary between my work and home lives, but as work picks up pace, as occupation turns preoccupation, and the success feed on themselves, it's been consuming more and more. I'm relying more on Flame to orchestrate our social life, and feeling more at a loss on the weekends. I've been learning a lot about relationships from the first self-help book I've read in years-- Models by Mark Manson-- and the January Scientific American Mind edition on relationships.

The summer is over too soon, and leaves are falling when I still haven't worn all my shorts. I organized a soccer group, but haven't gotten them together to actually play, or purchased a soccer ball. I have been finding time to do more climbing at the Brooklyn gym. The pain in my arms feels good, even as demons in my blood lash out at the change.
jrising: (zen)
A vast leading edge of a new gestalt has begun to upset and encompass mathematics, philosophy, computers and the Internet, psychology, art, and science. It will change how we understand our world and ourselves, and what we believe is possible.

This new gestalt is the culmination of threads that have been developing in many different areas, and they intersect in the emerging understanding of complexity and its connection with computers. Here are a few thoughts of how historical developments have brought us to this point.

Within mathematics, the rise of formalism upended the very nature of mathematics, making math about the creation of math, only to see this approach run up against fundamental flaws (Incompleteness and Halting problems). However, that process of realization itself led to the creation of computer.

Within physics, linear models gave rise to systems understandings (the inadequacy of causality, overdeterminacy), paralleling the evolution of mathematics away from the simple mechanics of truth. This process of exploration is now giving rise to models of out-of-equilibrium processes and entropy, possible only to study through simulation.

These processes in academics were connected to what happened in art, with the transition from the importance of technique (like physics’s former focus on formulas), to an exploration into the nature of painting itself (formalism), to a re-engagement with society (systems). Now new media (computers) are breaking open the possibilities of experience (simulation).

Within philosophy, the trench warfare that has shown a slow receding of absolutism to the forces of relativism is giving way to a new philosophy of multiple perspectives.

Within psychology, early neurobiology combined with the opportunities of technology produced positive psychology, but now more modern views are developing an idea of the emergent self.

It is no mistake the study of complexity is arising at this moment in history, nor that complexity science is so closely tied to developments in computational approaches. Another society-wide driver is also inextricably connected: the rise of big data. Big data lays out complexity for us to see, and demands a new fundamental theory of physics which combines thermodynamics with information theory.

The process of formalism changed the way that people thought about what they were doing, and computers are changing the way we think about everything again. The new gestalt recognizes multiple realities, and it recognizes the importance of simulation. In fact, it ties these two together: simulation and reality are linked. When you make a simulation, you create a new reality. It isn’t this reality, but this reality isn’t a well-defined thing either.
jrising: (zen)
Like art, there was a time when philosophy eschewed any direct relevance to ordinary life. Like mathematics, it was built-up by a new kind of formalization. In math, that process was inspired by set theory; in philosophy, it was called logical positivism. When Godel's theory showed that such formalisms ultimately eat themselves, both math and philosophy had a wake up call. Of course, by then all their friends had moved away.

Philosophy is going through a renaissance right now, for the same reasons that math is. It's computers. Computers aren't just changing society, how we think about ourselves, and what we can know. They are breaking open the notion of truth itself.

Godel's theorem tore down the notion that formal languages can embody all of truth. But it had a much more important consequence, which had nothing to do with its result. As speech by Chaitin argues:
[Formalization] failed in that precise technical sense. But in fact it succeeded magnificently, not formalization of reasoning, but formalization of algorithms has been the great technological success of our time---computer programming languages!

So if you look back at the history of the beginning of this century you'll see papers by logicians studying the foundations of mathematics in which they had programming languages. Now you look back and you say this is clearly a programming language! If you look at Turing's paper of course there's a machine language. If you look at papers by Alonzo Church you see the lambda calculus, which is a functional programming language. If you look at Gödel's original paper you see what to me looks like LISP, it's very close to LISP, the paper begs to be rewritten in LISP!

I was recently working on my Research Statement, for the impending academic job market, and dusting off some thoughts I put into my essay to get into grad school. I said, "Philosophy is grappling to find a life-affirming and ethics-motivating way to acknowledge the advances of technology and science. It has been driven by both them and worldwide clashes of culture to search for a more inclusive world view."

It's obvious now that one result of this search has been positive psychology (which I've ranted about before). But I think there's more brewing.

I study complexity, which is ripe with connections both to science and technology. It's not a mistake that complexity as a set of models is so closely associated with computational techniques like agent-based modeling. I happen to think that it's also ripe with connections to philosophy-- to the nature of reality and our relationship to it.

Complexity has been called the study of "little programs that never halt": there's a core of simplicity to any complex model, but there's also a level of unknowability. Formalizing complexity just doesn't work, in the traditional sense. Turning a complex model into a simple model loses essential elements, just like if you were to remove recursion from a programming language.

Ancient philosophy was content with irreducible mystery, but modern philosophy always wants to explain the foundation. It accepts that the explanation is infinitely complex, even if the foundation itself is not. But for a long time, it has been trying to explain itself to a world that wants simple models.

Computers give us a new paradigm. The world isn't like the number zero or the number infinity. It's like Twitter. We are creating new realities all the time now. And we can get to the bottom of our realities. We'll never know what reality has to say, as both philosophy and science once tried to do. But we can still study why and how it says it.
jrising: (zen)
Here's the first of 2-3 picture entries of pictures from my work trip to Australia and Vietnam. I give you-- Brisbane!

The South Bank
A view across the river Artificial beach Park pond with Ibises Fig trees in the city Botanical garden

Coot-Tha Reserve Botanical Gardens
Local tropical forest section Overlooked by restaurant Impecable landscaping View of Brisbane from the top

See more in my Australia and Vietnam album.
jrising: (zen)
This was sent by accident to a list I'm on:



Also, I've been reading way too much of the SMBC webcomic recently. Here are my favorite three:

Two dimensions of time

Parliaments of tissues

How academics say "I'm single"
jrising: (zen)
Vietnam is officially one of my new favorite countries.  Between lively cities, casual lushness, delicious food, and kind folk, I need to come back here.

I'd hoped to see the natural wonder (UNESCO'd) of Halong Bay, but a category high-3-or-4 typhoon was headed straight for it.  I'd expected Hanoi to be similarly drenched, but the nonchalance of everyone I asked turned out to be justified: all that reached Hanoi was a steady (if at times heavy) sprinkle all day.

So instead I saw Ho Chi Minh's body, in the vast mausoleum complex that includes a museum, old house, new house, and botanical garden.  His pale face was no less iconic for being on such a short body.  The line filed by him too quickly to feel much of the weight of the nearness, but there he was a few feet away.

Other observations from Hanoi: The city has a thing for turtles.  They claim that the one turtle that they didn't eat in the Old Quarter lake is over 500 years old, and the stone slabs raised in 1484 to honor Vietnam's best scholars (at the Temple of Literature-- a university from 1070) are placed each on a unique-looking turtle.  A lot of the pagodas feature turtles too.

The Old Quarter is a blast to get lots in.  Each street specializes in a different kind of ware (at least historically), from shoes to tin boxes.  But all have street food, coffee shops, fruit-sellers, and sidewalks that have been turned into motorcycle parking lots so everyone shares the street.

Also, my real purpose for being here-- peppering people at all levels of hydropower plant decision-making with questions-- was totally successful.  Each meeting filled in more of the picture, and identified more of what others weren't saying.
jrising: (zen)
I think I really like Vietnam!  Or at last the centers of a couple major cities.  I met up with Semee, whose grant is funding our travel, on Saturday night.

So far, I've spent two days in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), in the south, and Hanoi, in the north.  Saigon's center has wide streets and wide parks, lots of modern conveniences and lots of cultural institutions.  On Sunday, we wandered around Saigon's "old city", seeing the Reunification Palace (the underground bunker is a trip!), the Museum of Fine Arts (quite good!), and the copious parks.  The lush parks are filled with individuals and groups playing games, learning guitar, studying, lounging.  And the birds here sing on the Pentatonic scale!  One was going C-G-E-D-C'.  It's like a picture of utopia.

On Monday morning, before having our first interview at an apparently deserted and gutted university, we went on a boat tour down the Mekong, to a floating temple plastered in painted-dish mosaics.  The tour was supposed to include an island town, but there's some problem with the bridge there (an odd story, since we were in a boat), so we just went to a posh riverside hotel instead.

The streets are nerve-wracking, but not as bad as Cairo.  Very few intersections have signals.  The typical approach to crossing the street involves moving very slowly and trusting that the constant flow of traffic will move around you.

Vietnam loves its coffee.  There are multiple coffee shops on every block, and half the time people just get their coffee from vendors huddled on plastic stools on the sidewalks (the same place they get their food and haircuts and park their motorcycles).  I'm a little confused about it though, since Vietnam coffee is all Robusta, which my coffee books have been railing against.  But it tastes good to me.
jrising: (zen)
[NB: I'm now in Saigon and getting ready to leave it, but I wrote this on the flight here and forgot to post.]

My calves are killing me.  I decided to spend Friday exploring, starting with Mt. Coot-tha, a bush reserved 8 km from Brisbane city center.  On the way, I stopped at Brisbane's real botanical gardens, at the base of the mountain.

As opposed to the gardens in the city center, these actually have a range of plants.  Quite a range, in fact: plants from arid, temperate, and tropical of Africa, the Americas, and, of course, Australia.  Only about a third of plants seemed to be Australian, but those were the ones the signs gushed over.  Excerpts from travel diaries, aboriginal uses, Australian history, kids games.  And there were bush turkeys everywhere, including one that seemed to have been working for hours on moving all of the dirt on the side of one of the paths to cover one of the paths.

I begged my way on to the bus that went the rest of the way to the top, where trails started, not realizing that it was the last bus of the day.  So, after looking out over the city and walking halfway down the mountain and back on trails, I realized my predicament.  I asked a store-keep how to get down now that the buses had stopped.  "Waulke", she said, looking very apologetic.

So I walked.  I only had to go about 4 km before coming to a train station to take me the rest of the way in, but after traipsing around the gardens and walking trails all day, it was 4 km too much.  I got a grocery store salad on the way home, did my laundry, and went to bed.
jrising: (zen)
I did my presentation today, successfully, so I've earned my dinner.  So to speak-- since my dinner consists of an extra sandwich I nabbed from the lunch buffet (they always seem to have three times too much food).  I think I'll call it my last day of IIFET.  There are two more sessions tomorrow, but this is my only opportunity to see a bit more of Australia.

Australia, not surprisingly, is colossal.  For the dozens of reserves, sanctuaries, and national parks within striking distance, the town that marks the entrance to any proper rainforests or a visit to the reef is 29 hours away (same state though).  I'm torn between Moreton Island, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and Mt. Coot-tha Reserve for tomorrow.

Yesterday, I hung out with the world record holder for circumnavigating the globe in the smallest vessel.  A couple years after doing this, he met his now-wife, who traveled South America with my aunt, trying to discover a solution to food security in the 1970s in the plant of amaranth.  We went to the Powermill, a gutted powerhouse that sat unused for years and now is an art-space and bar-restaurant complex.  Then to Farm Valley, famous for good restaurants for good Indonesian food, and the next door to much better gelato.

I have some pictures (not many, not much sight-seeing), but my backpacker's hostel net connection is not far from excruciating.
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