Saturday, October 15, 2016


Oh dear, I've been very bad with blog posts of late. I have an excuse though.

I've been having some problems with my leg and feet. It began four weeks ago when my right knee swelled up. Then, after that subsided, I've been experiencing severe pain in various joints of my feet. Several visits to the GP and a multitude of tests later, my doctor reckons it is most likely gout (though I've never had it this bad for this long). Complicating the diagnosis, my uric acid levels have actually been low and on the decline (but evidently low uric acid levels can also trigger gout attacks). Jesus...can't win really.

So far I've been dosed up on anti inflammatories and, otherwise, limping around (and bossing Nathan about). I'll be starting gout meds next week. I must say I'm a little apprehensive because the gout meds are likely to trigger more gout flare ups before things start to improve. Let's see how it goes.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Canberra airport has finally gone international, with Singapore Airlines flying Singapore to Wellington via Canberra and back!

As a kid, I remember travelling overseas from Canberra used to be such a pain. Invariably, it would mean flying to Sydney. And in the days prior to the Qantas-Australian Airlines merger and interlining, it was especially nightmarish for passengers who had to get pick up their bags in Sydney, make their way to the international airport, and recheck their bags at the international terminal.

Coming back wasn't any easier, with the risk of missing the domestic connection from Sydney due to long delays at Customs.

Hopefully the new flights will be viable.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Goodbye sunny boy

Another piece of my childhood has come to an end...

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016

Saving Sirius

I realise brutalist architecture isn't for everyone. But its nice to see there is public interest in trying to to protect Sydney's Sirius building from demolition. Read about the campaign here.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Convoluted journey

I had an opportunity to travel to Israel for a work meeting. Unfortunately I had to decline due to other work commitments but it did get me does one get to Israel from Australia?

Due to the political situation, some carriers and transit destinations are obviously out of the picture (e.g. Emirates). Also, I understand that flight paths can be constrained. I asked the colleagues who are going and it seems that there are options through Asia but the transit times seem a bit nightmarish.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Nathan's Sydney sojourn

Nathan has gone to Sydney this weekend to watch his beloved Western Bulldogs play. I never got into the AFL. I come from Rugby territory (but I must say, I haven't really been into that either).

It's just Truffles and me in Melbourne this weekend. Unfortunately I somehow buggered my knee so might be bed ridden but I'm still hopeful I'll be well enough to get out and about with the dog.

Friday, September 23, 2016

In the news

I read in the news this week that there have been allegations of child sexual abuse levelled against one of my old headmasters in Canberra. The alleged offending occurred before he came to my school.

Whether or not these allegations are true should be left to the courts. What I do know is that this ex-headmaster was not a very nice person. He had really bad anger management issues and would go off at staff and students. Once, in a school assembly, he lost his temper so bad that, after the school assembly was over, when we went back to class, the teacher decided to dispense with her lesson plan and just spent the entire period talking with the students to make sure we were ok.    

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Not that funny

Some people are great comedians. Nathan's cousin is not really one of them but he definitely gives it a go and routinely does open mic. When he used to do it in Melbourne, we'd go along for moral support. Bless him. I admire his courage. Even though I have no problem giving a lecture to hundreds of students for an hour, I think a two minute comedy routine would be tough. Really tough.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The L word

My friend from Finland is in love...with an Australian. He is currently back in Europe and just told me he got shortlisted for an interview in the UK. It would be a 3 year research fellowship position, a terrific opportunity. Frankly, I think it will be a dream job. But he wants to come back to Australia.

Fine by me, I told him. It would be great to have him here but I can only afford to employ him for a few months at the start of next year so not so great for him from a job security perspective. He says he'll come....job or no job. Love really does make us do crazy things. I told him to keep mum about the whole Australia thing in the job interview. The selection panel doesn't need to know. And if he gets offered the job, he can always try to negotiate a later start date.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Clayton Reserve

I was in a walking mood again. This time I managed to drag Nathan with me (he often declines...says he suffers from asthma of the leg).

We decided to go to Clayton Reserve in North Melbourne with the dog (Nathan grabbed a doughnut along the much for trying to be healthy).

It was a pleasant walk and the dog got to run around the dog park.

A staffie got a bit to excited and put her muddy paw prints all over my new grey pants. Mental note for next nice clothes when going to the dog park.

Albert Park Lake and more eel on toast

I took Truffles on a very long walk yesterday. We started out here in Docklands and ended up making one loop around the Albert Park Lake. It's only the second time I've done the walk around the Lake and I must say it's rather nice, even on a cloudy Melbourne day.

Truffles wanted to chase the coots, but I kept her on her lead (which is probably just as well because I reckon she would have chased the birds straight into the Lake).

The coots seem to be more common than the black swans at Albert Park. I saw a few little goslings. They are very cute. I guess the public are now used to the adult swans having the collars around their necks. A colleague has been doing research on them for quite a few years now. I seem to recall that the different background colour on the collars (white versus black) help distinguish male from female (cant remember which colour corresponds with which sex).

Nathan stayed with a friend at Point Cook on Friday night and got back home when I was still out with the dog so we arranged to meet at South Melbourne for coffee afterwards.

Given my positive experiences with the smoked eel a couple of weeks ago, I decided to head off to the Vic markets in the afternoon to buy another. This time the shop keeper wrapped it up in some white papers so it was less awkward catching public transport back to the apartment. I'm sure no one cares but I was definitely feeling a bit self conscious last time.

Nathan, the dog and I then headed to the bakery to get some more of the delicious seeded rye bread so I can have my eel on toast for Sunday brekky (Nathan refuses to go anywhere near the eel so he's having eggs instead).

Work sadness

I found out on Friday that a former work colleague took his own life on Thursday. It's very sad, especially knowing it was also RUOK day. It's the second suicide in as many years and I've seen at least part of the impact that such a loss can have for family and friends. It's really awful.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


A friend of mine was able to get 600 euros compensation for a flight cancellation he experienced coming back to Oz from the UK.

Given my own flight cancellation a month ago, I decided to investigate further.

I contacted Qantas about my cancelled flight late last week. Sure enough, I received confirmation that I am entitled to a 600 euro refund too! Evidently flights coming out of EU countries are bound by regulations that specify compensation for cancellations and delays. Because I got back to Melbourne almost 8 hours after my scheduled arrival time, I was entitled to the compensation. Yay!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cracked it

I dropped my iphone on the pavement when I was walking the dog. The screen was smashed.

The first thing that came to my mind is how on Earth do people manage to still use their phones with a cracked screen. I see lots of people on the train with cracked smartphone screens seemingly oblivious to the cracks obstructing the view of whatever/whoever it is that they are looking at (or texting). I could barely see anything through mine and it wasn't even that badly smashed.

The second thing that came to my mind was to go buy a new phone, which is what I did. Nothing older model iphone (soon to be superseded). I just need it to make calls, text and read the news. Hmmm...I just hope I can find a protective casing for it.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Eel on toast

I was feeling adventurous and bought a whole smoked eel from the Vic Markets yesterday, head and all. As with all spontaneous culinary purchases of late, I had no idea how to prepare it. Thankfully I managed to find a good tutorial on the internet.
After overcoming the initial squirmishness of handling a rubbery two foot long eel (it reminded me of one of the formalin-preserved biological specimens in our teaching laboratory), I got down to business deboning the fish, which was quite fiddly.

It was well worth the effort when I sat down this morning to enjoy the eel on freshly baked rye bread with horseradish cream. Yummy.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Myth busters...

...goldfish do not have a 3 second memory.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Not in my name

I read on the ABC that a petition against the Safe School's program has been tabled in the NSW parliament, with more than 17,000 signatures gathered from the Australian Chinese community. Interesting how a petition can be seen to represent the views of an entire ethnic group on the basis that it is 'contrary to our cultural and belief system'. Well, the petition certainly doesn't speak for me.

Actions and consequences

Back when I was a uni student, it was not uncommon for law exams to be 'redeemable'. What this meant was that if you got a really shitty mark in your mid semester exam, you could opt to take a longer exam at the end of semester and if you attained a higher mark, you'd get to disregard your mid semester result. One of my law Professors would have none of that though. In response to a student question of whether the end of semester exam was redeemable, the professor simply answered back "Life is not redeemable". You make choices. Things happen. Live with the consequences. It was a valuable learning experience.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Gaswork art park farmer's market

Nathan and I took Truffles for a run at the Gaswork art park yesterday morning.

We were pleasantly surprised to see a farmer's market in full swing. Apparently it takes place one a month. We had no idea.

So...Truffles had her run, we had breakfast at the cafe, and I bought a beef brisket for Sunday dinner.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Why you shouldn't lie to your mum

Ryan Lochte, the US Olympic medalist, has managed to piss off a lot of people this week (including the entire population of Brazil) with his false claims of being held up and robbed at gun point.

An article in The Washington Post was particularly stinging, referring to Lochte as a swimmer "lost in the riptide of self-absorption" and the "dumbest bell that ever rang."  Another article in the New York Post described Lochte as "everything the world hates about American".

And all of this seems to have come about because he lied to his mum. Now, there's a lesson for us all...don't lie to your parents!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Internet woes

My laptop is hooked up to an ethernet cable. Remember those?

The wifi on the laptop is D.E.A.D. Getting it fixed is a hassle...I will need to leave it with the repairer for four business days. Given how much I rely on my computer for work (including teaching), I don't think I'll be able to get the laptop fixed before the end of teaching semester.

In desperation, I considered buying a new powerbook last weekend (this one is now 6 years old). The sales guy at Myers actually talked me out of it (bless him). He reckons I should wait because a new version of the Macbook is due to be released soon. In the meantime I will rely on my ethernet umbilical cord to the www.

Friday, August 12, 2016

I'm back

I'm back from my conference in the UK. I actually arrived back last Saturday and have been busy playing catch ups at work (hence, lack of blog posts). Oh...and my laptop wifi seems to have kicked the bucket.

The conference itself went well but the trip back was nightmarish due to cancellations and delays caused by the plane crash in Dubai. I should be grateful. I got home only 8 hours later than scheduled. A colleague from Perth two extra days to get home and waited in horrific queues to rebook his flights.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Two years ago, Nathan and I went to the US. We took a couple of weeks off to travel before going to New York where I had to attend a conference.

On our way to the US, we had a fantastic flight attendant, Tash, who looked after us extremely well. Coincidentally, she was on the same flight when we flew back to Australia several weeks later. We really hit it off. We found out that Tash was based in New Zealand and in the period that we were in the US, she had also gone on an American holiday with her friend. Ever since, both Nathan and I joke about bumping into Tash again. happened. On Monday, I flew to London via Dubai to attend the very same international conference as the one I attended in New York in 2014 (this year it's being held in Exeter). During the Dubai-London leg, a flight attendant came by to pick up my plates and she looked like Tash. When she walked past again, I called her and, sure enough, it was her! The chance encounter was all the more remarkable because I had been in Business Class this time and Task was working in Economy and happened to come to the upper deck to lend a hand.

Tash is now based in London and only flies between London and Dubai.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Weird dream

I had a really weird dream this morning.

I was on a ferry talking to an older lady who was with her two kids and her husband. I asked her whether she was from South America. She said she wasn't. Eventually, she told me that she was an Armenian gypsy. I then inadvertently insulted her when I asked if she was a Haredi Jew. I ended up having to find somewhere else to sit.

Hmmm, I wonder what that all means.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Melbourne architecture

A few month's ago, the world lost one of it's greatest architects. At the time of her death, Zaha Hadid's firm had a design for a building in Melbourne that was awaiting approval from the Victorian Government. That building has now been approved and, assuming the developers proceed, we can look forward to seeing this interesting building as part of Melbourne's skyline.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dream house

Having lived in Canberra and Helsinki, I've developed a liking for concrete buildings. If I were to move to the Brazilian rainforest, this would be my dream house...

It's out

Not only did I get to speak to the surgeon, but I ended having the surgery yesterday. They extracted a 2.7cm long fish bone from my abdomen. It was embedded in some fat. Pity they didn't take out the fat while they were at it.

Surgeon says I am still good to go to UK. I hope so.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pain in the gut

It seems that every time I've had to travel overseas for work in the past three years, there has been some kind of medical issue. Gout. Heart scares. That kind of stuff. shouldn't really come as a surprise that with a scheduled work trip to the UK later this month I find myself typing this post in hospital.

The reason for my predicament is truly bizarre.

It all started two weeks ago with lunch at a Greek restaurant in Oakleigh. I ordered the grilled snapper. It was delicious.

Then, this past Monday, I started to feel a sharp pain in my lower left abdomen. Hoping it would go away, I waited three days before visiting the GP. He suggested it could be muscular or an infection. He placed me on antibiotics. He also ordered n ECG because my heart beats suggested I may be in atrial fibrillation (a pre-exiting issue). This was on Thursday.

Yesterday, my GP calls me and tells me to go to Emergency. He confirmed I was in atrial fibrillation and was concerned my abdominal pain could have been linked (i.e. blood clot).

Well, it wasn't a blood clot. It was that snapper I ate two weeks ago. A CT scan reveals an object (most likely a fish bone) that appears to have made its way outside my digestive system (i.e. pierced through the intestine) and lodged itself in some fat in my abdomen. Terrific.

Talking to the surgeon today.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Nice discovery

My youngest sister is in town. I took the day off yesterday to hang out with her. After lunch, we found ourselves wandering around the streets of an industrial area in the north of the city looking for a cafe. We almost gave up when we turned a corner, found a discrete sign, walked through a courtyard and into a cavernous and hip cafe/coffee roasting venue. Only in Melbourne.


I read about this story in the Fairfax newspapers:

Briefly, family inherits vase from antique dealer aunt (surely a clue as to potential value?). Family uses vase as door stop. Family decides to get rid of vase at a boot sale but has change of mind and gets it valued first. Vase turns out to be chinese antique from the kiln of the Imperial court. Vase goes to auction. Vase sells for 650K GBP ($1.2 million AU). Family lives happily ever after.

I shall be visiting some boot sales when I go to Exeter later this month.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Shoulder issues

I injured my shoulder on the bus in March. I was hoping that the pain would just go away. It didn't. Finally I went to see a specialist. Turns out I have a torn tendon. The specialist recommends surgery. No heavy lifting for me.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Is he gay or isn't he?

I have no idea sometimes.

Nathan and I have a favourite 'lifestyle' shop in the city (i.e. a shop that sells candles and home wares and stuff like that). The owner is the most camp and flamboyant person I have ever met. A few weekends ago, he introduced us to his wife, who also works at the shop. Up until then, we had always assumed she was his fag hag.

And then earlier this week, I was having lunch in the tearoom and one of my colleague's new grad students joined us. He was also extremely flamboyant. And also a woman. I am so confused. I think my gaydar is broken.

Umbrella, where are you?

I was on my way across campus earlier today. I wore my big puffy jacket and kept my small umbrella tucked under my arm.

Somewhere along the journey, my umbrella fell and I didn't notice. I decided to re-trace my steps on the way back to my office. No luck.

I guess an unbroken umbrella on a wet day like today is a welcomed gift. Oh well, I hope it went to a good home.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Greek lunch

Nathan and I went to Oakleigh for lunch today.

I had no idea it was such a Greek area and that there was such a high concentration of Greek restaurants.

Judging by the customers still eating at 2pm, those restaurants must do very well.

We chose one of the busier restaurant haphazardly. We weren't disappointed. Greeks do nice seafood.

Election musings

Like 15 million other Australians, I waited in line for my chance to vote bright and early yesterday morning. And then I spent the night with my eyes glued to the TV watching the ABC's coverage of the election count.

Nathan, who is sometimes more rationale than I, decided that visiting a girlfriend's place with two screaming toddlers and a very talkative husband would be a much more exciting way to spend his evening so he left me to my night of political TV paralysis.

Well...what a waste of my night.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

No parking

One of the negatives of apartment living is having to defend your car space from interlopers.

Some car space owners have clearly had enough.

Nathan and I came across this amusing sight when we arrived back at the apartment the other night.
It reads "Repeat after me...I should not park here".