Tuesday, 27 June 2006

the roundball shame

Et c'est pour ca, mes chers amis, que le foot est, et va toujours être, de la merde. May as well toss a goddamn coin. Arbitrary referee decision, game over. And to think I overpaid for two pints during the match. Soccer is dead to me. C'arn the pies, up you Lions, and ooh-aah Glenn McGrath.

Really, though. What sort of sport allows a game like that? 90 minutes with basically nothing happening, then the referee gets thirsty and blows an arbitrary penalty to avoid going for another 30. Pish. Tosh.

Bitter? Yes please, and make it a pint.

Monday, 26 June 2006


A strange weekend, busy in a way, though hardly stressful.

Friday night was football, the "return" game - having gotten Australia through against Croatia, we then got France through against Togo. Like their previous games, France dominated general play but had real difficult getting shots, and fingernail were being bitten at half-time. In the second half, though, Vieira stepped up and the 2-0 result was merited and sufficient to get them through to play Spain. The evening was good fun, too, with Erwan & Manu, Arnaud, and Erwan's parents all in attendance.

On Saturday I trotted around to Avenir (how many times have I written that?) for their "fête du basket". From 10am, we played some inter-generational games, plus a whole bunch of little challenges like 3-point and free-throw contests, dunk contests (for all ages, including the little kiddies - poussins - on little plastic hoops) and dribbling challenges. I actually won myself a basketball on one of the latter, which surprised me. I was less successful in the real games, but it was fun to run up and down and try to get the little kids involved. In the evening we had a dinner, and I had a good chat with Ashu, Sandy, Arnaud, Soso, and others. Through the day I also met Jean-Paul and Maxine, whose daughter plays with the cadettes (or minimes, not sure), as well as a couple of other people from around the club.

Sunday, by contrast, was consecrated to WoW. I had an epic day, with a bunch of SM runs in the morning which got me to lvl38, then a poorly organised but invigorating SS raid where I racked u 50HK to help my feeble PVP rating. In the evening, Ashu came round to borrow my internet connection, in order to finish his webpage assignment. He asked for help a few times, but I had little to add in a constructive sense to a project based on Dreamweaver and making liberal use of flash. So, in order not to interrupt his work, I kept playing with a long, long run at Uldaman with a bunch of hunters, by the end of which I hit 39. The Ulda run was particularly fun, even though we wiped a bunch of times. We came within a whisker of finishing the main boss, too, but the lack of a true tank to hold aggro really hurt us. At 38, I was a little underpowered, but I can punch well above my weight as a primary healer, so got a few compliments and a new guild for my troubles.

And that was the weekend that was. Today its off to test my knee with a little tennis (basketball on Saturday was touch and go), then hopefully to a bar somewhere in town to watch the Australia game.

Friday, 23 June 2006

job market

It feels like I'm falling into the job market tous d'un coup. I got a request to send a CV off to someone last week, then an ad for a post-doc popped up the other day, and today I see that NICTA are looking for a researcher in SE. They all involve interesting topics in which I have a bit of experience, too, which is reassuring in terms of the job market not being as glum as I thought it might have been. At the same time, they probably need attention in the next few weeks which, from the perspective of both time preparing applications and mental energy expended, is not likely to help my PhD progress in the short term.


I last night donned my wallabies jersey (subtle comment on soccer's role in Australian sport) and one of the tattoos my sister sent me last year (where else am I going to use them?), and rocked around to Erwan & Manu's place with Arnaud and Nono to watch the Australia-Croatia derby (10 players with conflict of interest, I believe).

The star of the show was obviously the pillock of a referee, but generally highlights included:
- Joe Simunic showing his Australian upbringing by executing a textbook rugby tackle on Mark Viduka, yet somehow not being penalised
- A croation defender executing a textbook aussie rules spoiling punch in the area yet not being penalised
- Tugging and general buffoonery all night long in both penalty areas, almost totally ignored by aforementioned pillock and his buddies on the sidelines
- Zeljko Kalac playing out his worst nightmare by almost throwing the ball in his own goal off a corner then finishing the job off a tame shot in the second half
- Joe Simunic getting a second yellow card, but deciding that it was a fun game anyway, and continuing to play until getting a third yellow and belated red after the final whistle, in turn brought about by
- Pillock looking Joe in the eyes and saying to himself, "Hang on, I've been booking this guy all night long, what's he still doing here? Crap, I'd better blow full time, even if the Aussies are about to score and settle this thing beyond doubt"

Englishmen should not be given whistles anywhere outside of a dance party.

I'm not sure I've seen a more chaotic game in any sport. On the balance of possession and chances, I'd say Australia certainly deserved to qualify and probably should have won the match, but you have to wonder how that sort of bordelle can happen at this level.

Tonight its back to the scene of the crime to watch France vs Togo, featuring the much anticipated battle between a french attack featuring Henry (Arsenal) & Trezeguet (Juventus) against 4 blokes who play respectively in the french 6th league, the cypriot league, the belgian second division, and without a club.

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

wet de la musique

Today is the solstice, which here means the fête de la musique, wherein street performers flock to street corners to beat on drums, strum guitars and generally make noise. I missed the first year I was here, but last year had a pretty good time wandering around Toulouse with Juan, Chris and Mick watching groups of varying styles and abilities beat out their tunes. I'm pretty keen to do the same here in Rennes tonight, but for the moment its looking miserable outside, which makes a foot-tour of the centre-ville pretty unappealing. I'll have to see if I can rustle up some company...

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

here come the blow-ins again ...

We had the first wave of visitors a couple of weeks ago. Robert France, Sudipto Ghosh and Trung Dink Trung from Colorado State spent a week here and there were numerous meetings talking about all manner of things, both research and administration (plotting for grant monies).

The second wave arrives today. A chap called Diego from Spain arrives for a couple of months, to be joined by his boss in a couple of weeks. Then we have Iman coming over from London for week or so, as well as a new Indian Masters student, a new engineer from England, and a visit from an Aussie, Greg O'Keefe, for a couple of weeks in August.

Busy, busy, busy.

Monday, 19 June 2006

there's nothing i like more ...

... than having nothing much to do

round and round

So on Thursday night there was a dinner at the foyer. It was the usual crowd, a propos a few - the basketball chicks, Erwan & Manu, Katrin, who I hadn't seen in a while, and most importantly Ashu as cook. We had some bbq'd tandoori chicken and another chicken curry, which was all pretty good. It was also kind of farewell for Liz before heading over to Vancouver for summer. Good craic.

On Friday I had lunch with Tortue and Liz in town, which was nice. Later in the afternoon I went for my second (and first proper) pyhsio appointment. He put me through a bunch of exercises designed to make my knee work under some static pressure, which also put my lower calf and quad muscles to good work. He seems pretty confident I'll be back running around in short time, which is good.

I had grand plans to do, like, "stuff", on Saturday, but mice, men, and all that. Mostly I just bummed around, watched football, played FIFA. And sweated. It has turned hot all of a sudden here, and even sitting around in a singlet, I was in stuck-pig mode for not insignificant intervals. On Sunday I got off my bum a bit, did some shopping, had some lunch and headed out on the bike (having received the OK from the physio on Friday) with my iPod. I rode up to Betton and back along the canal, by pedometer 33-odd km, by bike computer about 35. Interestingly, its my hip flexors that get tired/sore with cycling, not my quads as it probably should be.

After my ride I wandered by the braderie (giant communal garage sale) around the corner and caught up with Erwan, who was manning a stall with his brother-in-law Bernard and father-in-law Thierry. After a brief family meeting, we headed over to Bertrand's (brother-in-law) place, just 100m or so from mine, to meet Arnaud and watch the Australia-Brazil game. Australia played OK, and probably didn't deserve to lose by 2 goals, but could not claim to have earned a win. Brazil were underwhelming. After that we headed back to Manu's parents place, 200m from mine in the other direction (small world), for an apero before the france game. To recap, participants included: myself, Manu & Erwan, Arnaud, Manu's sister and husband, Manu's mum & dad, grandma, and 3 little ones asleep upstairs. We had dinner, a summery help-yourself type thing with salad and cold meats, and watched the france game, with Erwan, Arnaud and Bernard particularly on edge. France were unlucky to draw, but were nonetheless unconvincing in attack, and fatigued noticably towards the end of the match. Why Domenech waited until the 90th minute to put in subs for a tired Zidane and an ineffective Henry, is beyond me.

Wednesday, 14 June 2006


The accents of frenchmen speaking English make baby Jesus cry.


I went along to the physio this afternoon for my first session on my knee. She applied ultrasound, and some sort of electrical pads that made something in my knee quiver, and some cream that made it all cold for a good half hour. Funky. Back on Friday.

Monday, 12 June 2006

in the wars

Silly boy.

So last night was the chanteloup basketball tournament. Tortue booked me in a few months ago, so as well as really looking forward to playing, I kind of felt obligated to play. I shouldn't have, probably.

My knee was feeling a little better, kind of. It wasn't troubling me to walk, but at the same time I pretty much knew it couldn't take weight. I was resolved to take it easy and not jump into things, and I managed for about a game and a half. In the second game I grabbed a rebound in a crowd and got wrapped up, and it hurt. I slowed down, subbing in and out of the next couple of games. Unfortunately, we made the final, and Jim got excited. We got out on a fast break and Soso threw a nice pass that I really liked the look of. Unfortunately, trying to drag it in, I landed and saw my knee kind of buckle a little, and I went down, well, like a sack of shit. And it hurt. I'm limping today, and its a little swolen. I'm icing it, but my freezer is scheisenhausen, so I'm on a pretty slow cycle.

Doctor Monday morning. Crap on a stick.

Update: Sprained (but not ruptured/torn) LCL ( think, not ACL as I previously wrote), with maybe a pinched meniscus. Anti-inflammatories, ice, and some physio sessions.

Wednesday, 7 June 2006

roland garros

Roland Garros is on, and it looks like they might get the top 4 men's seeds into the semis, provided Ljubicic can get past the last best french hope, Benneteau, this evening.

Everyone seems to love Rafael Nadal, but I reckon he's boring. To me, he's pure claycourt, Sergi Bruguera with speed and endurance. I respect that he's effective, but until he starts playing some attacking tennis rather than just waiting for the other guy to hit an errant shot or come to net, I don't see myself enjoying watching him play.

Its just a style thing. So many people say that grasscourt tennis is boring, but I have a suspicion that there is about an equivalent amount of attacking tennis between grass and clay. Its just that in grass, the non-attack time is spent serving and walking between points, whereas on clay its banging the ball back up and down the court without trying to create or force anything. I'd rather watch Ivanisevic than Muster, any day of the week. Perhaps that's because I've served a few balls in my time and reckon I'm pretty good at it, and realise that it has much more to do with technique and placement than with being tall and strong, as grasscourt critics often claim.

Its also partly a preference for serve-volley tennis (dying or perhaps dead with the fall from grace of Henman), although i'm also a big fan of players like Agassi and Hewitt, baseliners who truly play and attack from the baseline rather than defending a few meters behind it, like your classic clay-courters.

Above all, I need to get out and hit some balls.

for my greater edifilmcation

Still trying to work my way through, or at least into, IMDB's top 250 films. Last night it was quintessential western, with Gary Cooper in High Noon. Classic. Tonight it was quintessential dystopia, with Terry Gilliam's Brazil. Bent, surreal, and very cool.

Despite all my best efforts, I don't seem to be able to advance in my count, though. At one point last year I hit 157/250, but now, even with those two, I'm back to 153. Only one thing for it.

Monday, 5 June 2006

no more listlessness

The end of listless Warcraft weekends came, small surprise, via a list. I made one up Saturday morning, with a dozen or so things that needed doing, and managed to cross off half of them or so by the end of the day. I made a DVD up for Em's music needs, cleaned up my bookshelf a bit, mailed off a few letters that needed sending, did my shopping, called Mum and Dad, and finished off the day with a lamb roast (my gravy chops are wanting, it seems). I did still get a little WoW in, but in most reasonable proportions.

Sunday was going a similar way, when I got a text from Sandy to come and hang out at the beach for the afternoon. Perfect plan, since for the first time the weekend had offered up not only t-shirt, but shorts weather. So, I went and lay on the Rennes beach (such as it is) for a couple of hours chatting and getting just a little bit of sunburn.


I went over to Sandy's place on Friday night for drinkies with the Avenir girls. This time, perhaps for the first time, I was the only bloke there, among a dozen or so from Avenir. Its interesting the change from my Brisbane social life, which was dominantly male to quite a strong extent (caveat: less so towards the end with Julz, Kylie and a few others). Turns out Sandy is off to Vancouver for a year next month, visa permitting.