Sometimes Shit Just Works

Joe, his friend Linda and myself went to a pub on Friday night called the Lass O’Gowrie. It’s a big place, but on this particularly evening there were only about two dozen people. As we ordered our first round Linda noticed that they were having a meat raffle. She purchased 3 dollars worth of tickets, and as luck would have it she won. Linda had me choose which particular package of cuts to take home, but the pickings were admittedly slim. I settled on a package that had 5 sausages (referred to as “snags” in Australia) and two cuts of beef that would best be described as cube steaks. As soon as we won the meat raffle Joe and Linda wanted to head back home and cook the winnings, I’m always hungry so I didn’t argue.

I should preface the rest of this story by adding that on my first two days in Joe’s apartment I attempted to cook myself some bacon for breakfast, but Joe’s range has only two settings, cremation and off. Cooking bacon at the “cremation” level produced a large smoke cloud in Joe’s apartment and he hasn’t let me live it down sense. Three weeks later and he still claims his apartment smells like a burnt pig. I’ve since found that the back right burner on his range does allow for an acceptable amount of heat control, and I can now cook bacon with confidence

Anyway, I noticed the entire lack of any marbling or fat to be found in the structure of the beef cuts that Linda had won, and I knew that if I attempted to cook one on Joe’s grill I’d be enjoying a warm piece of boot leather. So I formulated a plan to make a country fried steak with my cut of beef. At first Joe wasn’t gonna have it, fearful that if I fried the steak on his range I’d make his home smell of more burnt animal flesh. Linda was confident that if she “tenderized” her steak with Joe’s rolling pin that it would be plenty tender. I attempted to explain the concept of country fried steak to Joe and Linda, telling them that I intended to repeatedly stab holes in the beef cut with a fork, lightly tenderize it, and then coat it with a beaten egg and seasoned flour. After that I would lightly fry it in a cast iron pan with peanut oil. Joe was not buying that this method would produce a piece of meat with anymore tenderness than Linda’s method of tenderizing and grilling. I attempted to construct an explanation of the chemistry and physics of cooking with hot oil, and how this would produce a tender and moist cut of meat. But I had to face the facts, I don’t know shit about chemistry or physics and Joe was calling me out left and right. Eventually I just said, “Joe, sometimes shit just works” he said “Those are confident words coming from a budding scientist”

But, ultimately, Joe became curious about my methods, and allowed me to make my country fried steak.  He had a little taste test comparing mine to Linda’s. His conclusion was that my steak was definitely more tender, and certainly tastier than the tenderized and grilled version and all I had to say was, “sometimes, shit just works”.

Caricature

Head to body ratio accurate

I landed in Sydney, Australia a week ago at 10:30 AM, after a 3 hour flight from Houston to Los Angeles, an 11 hour layover in Los Angeles, then a 13 hour Flight to Auckland Zealand, with a 3 hour layover in Auckland.

I had hired a shuttle service called Happy Cabby to haul my 230 pound ass and my 180 pounds of luggage from Sydney to Newcastle. It was about a 2 hour ride. The shuttle was a small bus with a trailer, and the only passengers were myself, the driver and a guy in his mid 20’s who had just got back from Thailand. For the first hour I quietly listened to the Thailand traveler recount his experience with prostitutes in Thailand. In general his opinion was that it is difficult to determine the sex of the local Thai hookers, and so he didn’t spend his money on them. He did however, highly recommend Russian hookers. I didn’t ask why there are Russian hookers doing business in Thailand. The cab driver stopped and let the Thai traveler off at a McDonald’s. Thai traveler was very excited about this opportunity to eat at McDonald’s. What a classy guy. Let me be clear, I’m being sarcastic, he was NOT a classy guy.

The suttle dropped me off at Joe’s (my PhD advisor) house. Joe handed me a beer, we chatted and then I went to have a shower. Joe had purchased a pair of tickets to go to a beer tasting and 4 course dinner that evening, and in that moment I wasn’t feeling tired so I agreed to go. When we got there, I started feeling tired. Then I drank some beer and I REALLY started to feel tired. Then I ate the first course of the meal, and considered curling up under the dinner table. Joe was introducing me to people, telling them that I had landed in Sydney that very morning.  No joke my eyes would close mid sentence while trying to participate in any conversation at this point. Luckily everyone at the table thought this was great fun, so I had plenty of people laughing at my expense, I was too tired to care. The fact that I was so very tired was complicated by the fact that this beer tasting was some sort of fund raising event for a local craft brewer’s club. There was a monotone master of ceremonies who thought it was necessary to give longwinded speeches between meal courses about the importance of craft brewers in Australia. If I had just woken up from a 14 hour nap and slugged 2 gallons of coffee, listening to this guy drone on would STILL have put me to sleep.

An additional fundraiser going on was a local newspaper cartoonist walking from table to table doing caricatures. Joe and the other folks at the table hailed the cartoonist to do a caricature of me, mostly because they though the caricature would be of me falling asleep. I managed to stay awake long enough to get my portrait, and then cartoonist asked me if I had any hobbies to work into the picture, I said “lizards” he immediately displayed a dumbstruck expression. I’m sure he didn’t think “lizards” were a hobby, hell I don’t think lizards are a hobby. However despite his dumbstruck expression he didn’t ask anything else, and drew the caricature as you see above. I don’t know why he had to include an American flag badge on my shirt. I guess so no one would assume I was Canadian? Shortly after that I got to go back to Joe’s and hit the sack.

I’m still staying with Joe, and this last week has been lots of really boring paper work and what not to get me into the Australian resident and academic system.

I’ll be heading out to Uluru about the second week of October. I’d lay a hefty bet that this blog will get a lot better when I have get experience out there!

-Drew