What I Did on the Weekend

Back in primary school, it was a task every year, if not every term, to write a recount based on the theme “What I did on the weekend”. The point of this was to teach different writing styles, including narratives, reports, expositions, reflections and of course, recounts. As a scientist, most of my time is spent writing in the so-called “report” style. When one is writing a blog however, they must resort to other styles of writing. So here is such a piece, written as a recount based on that age-old topic “What I did on the weekend”.

The oft-ill reflected date of the September 11 was one which I had set aside for a farewell celebration. I had invited friends and family to make the epic adventure to Cudlee Creek in order to celebrate my impending departure. Most of my friends who study physics with me had never before seen where I live, so it was an introduction at a time of farewells.

I had to get up early, not made easy by the late night of at the AUScA Sherry Party (which of course, did not involve Sherry). Nevertheless, the motions of setting up for a function are well-rehearsed and straight-forward: retrieve the camp chairs, roll out the firebox, open the umbrella, raise the volleyball/badminton net and so on. As it turns out, I don’t think I’d run a party in September, at least not in a September following a wet winter. The creek below the flying fox was flowing, and the small valley which it crosses had been partially inundated with water. In addition to the regular set-up, I also constructed a temporary bridge across the water, and a ladder to climb the muddy slope beyond to reset the flying fox. Unfortunately, while placing a pallet into the creek to form a pillar for the bridge, I plunged my foot into the creek, resulting in a wet sock and shoe which I carried for the rest of the day.badminton

Guests began to arrive from 10, early guests bringing out the last few tables and sporting gear. By 11, all but one of those who were going to arrive had arrived, and the festivities began. I ushered the first round of people across the flying fox. There was a welcome new arrival here: in the last 24 hours, Dad had installed a new launching pad for those taking the plunge down the flying fox. Also, it had been recently oiled, which resulted in a number of people coming into contact with the tree at the end. Being physicists, there ensued a debate as to the physics of the flying fox, and why lighter people tend to have more speed at the end than heavier people. In conclusion, the drop in potential energy is identical for both masses, but the forces in the vertical direction are ma sin(θ) = mg – N cos(θ), and the forces in the horizontal direction are ma cos(θ) = N sin(θ) – μ N. So as the mass increases, the normal force increases and hence the friction increases and so the acceleration is smaller.

After flying fox and a tad of badminton, it was time for dodgeball. Dodgeball was one of the most popular pre-event choices of activities, and I had gone so far as to purchase 6 new balls for the purposes of throwing at each other. We set up on the cricket pitch by the scoreboard, and performed a schoolyard pick for the first round of games. There were twelve participants, so the first few games were to be six versus six. Team captains Urwah and Raquel selected a rather unevenly weighted team, and the two games went to Team Raquel 2-0. Next, we split into three teams of four to perform a round-robin tournament. The team captains were Team Andre, Team Ben and Team (Josh) Charvetto, which neatly match the Team A, B and C scoreboard cards available. There were three rounds of three games. Team Andre quickly grew dominant, taking a 2-1-0 lead after the first round. It was around this point that Zac started to feel a sore throwing arm, and by the third round, he would pull out. The second round fell the same way, taking the score to 4-2-0. Zac pulled out in the third round, and I filled in for him and drew a win out of Team Andre. Team Ben lost to Team Andre, and the battle for second place was held between Team Ben and Team Charvetto, where they pulled level for the final result at 5-2-2. Throughout the tournament there were several memorable moments and outstanding players, plus much controversy besides.

Shortly after the conclusion of the tournament, lunch was called. In addition to the roast lamb and chicken, people had brought along plates of food to share. The food ranged from salads to sausage rolls and Cornish pasties, much of it delicious. Over lunch, Dad announced that he wanted to make a speech. He shared about the opportunity that I had to travel and study overseas, compared to back in the 1970s, where travel was much more limited. Mum kind of but also didn’t want to make a public contribution, and the rest of my friends indicated that they had prepared a gift, but it was not yet ready and they had to all go into the office to sign the card, passing the comment “It’s because we don’t have Ben to organise it for us.” The short hiatus was broken when Josh et al. returned and presented me with a framed and photoshopped image of the 1927 Solvay conference. Normally, that image features many of the greatest contributors to physics in the first half of the 20th century, but this particular image had been edited to include the face of all of those who study or frequent the physics office at Uni over the last year or so, with Brittany wearing Paul Langevin’s distinctive moustache. I preceded to thank everybody in attendance for their contributions, friendship and support helping me get to where I am today, concluding with Brittany and my family, including Nana who had arrived to take Tim to the theatre.

Robert Perry: M Knusden, Urwah Nawaz: W.L. Bragg, Paul Alvino: A. Piccard, Ryan Bignell: E. Henriot, Raquel Hogben: M. Curie, Josh Charvetto: H.A. Lorentz, Ben Geytenbeek: A. Einstein, Brittany Howell: P. Langevin, Andre Scaffidi: E. Schrodinger, Dona Kireta: J.E. Verschaffelt, Jason Oliver: W. Heisenberg, Kim Somfleth: C.T.R. Wilson and Zach Matthews: N. Bohr.

After lunch, it was time to feed the cows. The group was ushered towards the sheds and into the Suzuki and trailer. I asked if anybody wanted to go mountain biking later, to which there were three responses: Andre, Josh and Paul. Easy, I thought, there are three mountain bikes. The bikes and their riders were loaded into the back of the Suzuki, with Brittany (and Stella) on the front seat and everybody else with the hay in the trailer. We drove out (carefully) to the cows, and fed them with the hay, which amounted to Jason stuffing it into the cow’s mouth.


Afterwards, we went into the forest up the Heysen trail. We stopped briefly at Granddad’s camp to read and fill out the log-book, before making our way up the rough road to the top of One Tree Hill. The view from the top stretches far out to the North and East, looking over the Millbrook Reservoir and out to the hills above Gumeracha and Lobethal. Getting cold, we went around the ridgeline and out to Mount Misery, to see the views of the Gorge, Paracombe, Northern Suburbs and Lefevre Peninsular.

On the way back down, I showed the three avid cyclists the entrance-way to the Ant Logic bike trail. They familiarised themselves with their bicycles, and we sent them off down the trail. The rest of us went down to the end of the trail to meet them: a muddy ford on a track that branches from the main trail. But we had to wait a long while for them. Another cyclist came by, and yet the minutes passed with no sight. Eventually, we see them walking their bikes over the brow of the gully. Confused, we asked what had happened, and discover that after less than a minute of trail riding, Josh’s wheel had seized up, the derailleur had come off and jammed, making it unrideable. I offered to take them back to the top of the hill, and suggested to everybody else to make their way back down and home again. We went a little further than before, but since we only had two working bikes, we would go down in two groups of two. The first pair, Josh and Paul went down safely, with Andre, Brittany and I returning via the main track. They were a lot faster this time, barring a couple of accidents by Paul who obtained more than a few bruises. The second run was with Andre and myself. I trailed Andre who came off on no less than the second bend, over-running the corner and sliding partway down the hillside. Bruised and muddied but with high spirits, he continued safely down the rest of the course, and rode the bikes back home.

Once back home, we continued general activities. Andre, Paul, Josh and I started a volleyball game: Paul and Josh playing Andre and Myself. Volleyball is the kind of sport where to play decently you need some level of basic skill. Rallies where the ball passed the net more than twice were rare, and at the end of the game, Paul and Josh won 2-0. This was followed by enthusiasm for more dodgeball, so we played haphazardly, with teams varying regularly. The game ended drastically when Urwah was hit in the side of the head from a high-power attempt from Kim, but with a little ice she turned out 0kay. The day was declining, so after a few more rides on the flying fox we settled into dessert and a more general discussion, relaxing on the camping chairs outside. After the sun had gone behind the hill, we moved inside. Rob and Paul departed early, the former needing to prepare for their INPC presentation, and the rest of us stayed on for sausages and left-overs for dinner. Exhausted and elated, general discussion continued through until about 8pm, at which time it was decided that people needed to get home, shower and sleep.

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