Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Shrimp paste and fish sauce

My poor gallerist friend. She moved into a nice apartment in St Kilda and has had nothing but trouble. She got permission to hang some of her artwork in the public spaces and two got ripped off the walls and were stolen. Then her storage space got broken into. So much for secure swipe card access into the building.

Her latest gripe has been about her neighbours downstairs. The bloke is British. His wife is Indonesian - and evidently the chef in the household. My friend has been complaining about pungent smells wafting into her apartment. Turns out to be shrimp paste and fish sauce. Even though I don't cook with those ingredients very often, I personally wouldn't have a problem but I'm used to those smells. I find cigarette smoke wafting into my apartment to be more annoying.

Given my friend's German heritage, I suggested she cook sauerkraut to block out the pungent shrimp paste odours in her apartment.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tentative steps

I took my first tentative steps out into the big wide world today following my medical dramas yesterday.

Even though I am now feeling fine, it was surprising how nervous I was walking out of the apartment. Rather than taking the stairs like I usually do, I decided to take the elevator instead.

And after running my errand, I came straight back home.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday morning drama

I ended up in hospital this morning. I was on my way to work and decided to take the stairs up to Collins Street. This is something I do almost every day but today I was in atrial fibrillation.

The actual climb up was fine but when I reached Collins Street and started to make my way towards the train station, I found it increasingly hard to catch my breath and started to black out. I had to lean against a wall to steady myself and it didn't get any better so I had to sit on the sidewalk. I then felt really unwell and ended up calling an ambulance. My shirt was soaked in sweat.

The ambulance arrived but was on the other side of the street so I asked a guy in a suit to help me flag it down. He made a half arsed attempt and then continued on his way. I guess he was eager to get to work. I ended up stopping a lady for help instead and the ambulance eventually found me.

The paramedics were terrific and had a great sense of humour. I was initially reluctant to go to hospital but they talked me into it. It was my first time at the Royal Melbourne. The facilities there seem to be much better than my last visit to Cabrini. A couple of hours later, my heart returned to normal rhythm and I got to go home.

Too much drama for a Monday in my opinion!


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Birthday surprise

Nathan and I are in Canberra. We are here celebrating dad's 70th. It was suppose to be a series of surprises but as the weekend approached, more and more of the surprise had to be revealed (e.g. mum let the cat out of the bag that we were coming to Canberra.)

We are heading down to Tilba on the south coast of NSW so it was inevitable that we had to eventually let mum in on the secret and then to tell dad so they can plan the trip (our family doesn't do spontaneous things well).

My sister in Melbourne is also coming with her family. They are driving up and meeting us in Tilba and were suppose to be one of the surprises too but she had to tell mum to mitigate Mum's inevitable stress levels if she suddenly found out there were four extra people to feed (dad's already busy preparing food for Tilba. Yes, it's meant to be his birthday). Dad doesn't know that my Melbourne sis is coming so at least that will remain a source of excitement when we get there.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Blogger catch up

I'm looking forward to catching up with fellow bloggers later this morning. I've met Victor a couple of times previously and really enjoyed our previous catch ups (once in Melbourne and once in Sydney with Nathan in tow). I'll be meeting Andrew for the first time but I've been following his blog for years so it will be fun to finally meet him in person.

Luna Park wedding

Nathan and I went to a wedding last week at Luna Park.

I had no idea that Luna Park did wedding receptions, but I thought it was a really fun venue.

We were perched on the roof of the main cafe for the actual wedding ceremony, right next to the tracks of the big roller coaster. In between the sound of screaming roller coaster riders, the bride and groom managed to get through their vows.

I guess an amusement park is actually quite an appropriate venue for a wedding. It's full of wedding relevant symbolism (emotional roller coaster ride immediately comes to mind).

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A morning at the museum

I had to go to the Museum for a work meeting yesterday. I stopped by at a cafe on Gertrude Street called Grumpy and the Dreaded One's Little Cafe of Awesome. True to it's name, the cafe was awesome and there was a lady with dreads behind the counter. And after my companion received his coffee, we realised that the bloke who brought out his drink is, indeed, a grump.

Spiders and how not to quit your job

A couple of interesting social media lessons for me this week.

The first concerns a Facebook post I made, in which I posted a picture of a big, hairy huntsman spider. Pretty innocuous right? Well, not if you have both biologist and non-biologist friends on Facebook. The reaction of the non-biologists was naturally quite predictable. Most people do not like spiders. The problem was that one of my Facebook friends happens to be a spider expert and took offence to the commentary and started writing comments about the people who wrote the anti-spider posts. Lesson 1: No more spider posts on Facebook.

The second concerns the resignation of a colleague, who told our boss that she would be resigning to take up a new position overseas. She initially wanted to keep things under wraps until she had the opportunity to inform her grad students. Once that had happened, I guess she posted something about her new job on social media (Twitter?). Well, the boss saw the post and had a dummy spit accusing her of undermining his reputation by making her resignation public before he had the opportunity to formally tell the rest of our Department. Lesson 2: Your boss probably follows you on Twitter.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

My new toy


I have a new laptop. Yay.

My last one is starting to fail me and I am too technologically incompetent to rectify the things that I'm sure can otherwise be easily fixed or updated.

Broken wifi and problems with accessing various websites (including those associated with my work) has led me to my brand new Macbook Pro.

The scary thing is that I'm beginning to worry that the new laptop might be a bit overly fancy for me. For example, what the heck is a thunderbolt port and will I be able to figure out how to connect my computer to the lecture theatre screens at work before the start of second semester? Oh, and how do I use my fancy trackpad?

I'm worried I might have simply traded one set of technological incompetencies for another.

I took my new toy out of the box last night but haven't actually switched it on yet.

In the meantime, I'm typing this on my old computer in the bedroom connected to a very long ethernet cable.

On hands and knees

Don't get the wrong idea.

I've spent a week stuck in my apartment because of a nasty gout flare up. At its worst, I was having to crawl on my hands and knees to get to and from the bathroom.

The week in bed did allow me to catch up on a lot of movies and I kinda went crazy watching queer movies (I exhausted half of our download limit for the month). Three stand outs for me were FreefallStrangers by the Lake, and Weekend

I also watched an interesting documentary called Do I Sound Gay? The latter was particularly surprising because I didn't expected to see my old (American) boss and colleague in the documentary.

My old boss is most definitely not gay (though he does have a very strong lisp). He also happens to be (along with his wonderful wife) one of the very first people I ever came out to, but that's another story.

Anyhow, it turns out that my former boss is the documentary filmmaker's cousin and made a cameo in the film. I emailed him to let him know that I saw him in a doco and he said that if he knew he was going to be an international star, he would have made a bit more effort to comb his hair on the day of the filming.



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Exempt

There is a news story on the Fairfax websites about a woman who was told by a security guard to refrain from breastfeeding at the National Gallery. The Gallery has since apologised.

It did get me wondering though. Food and drink are generally prohibited in public gallery spaces – and for good reason. Should breastfeeding mothers be exempt? And what about other spaces where food and drinks are not allowed?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Gong xi fa chai

Rooster


Tomorrow marks the year of the rooster in the Chinese lunar calendar.

It was interesting to read that the period around chinese new year also marks the largest human movement on Earth as hundreds of thousands of people make their way home to celebrate with their families.

I'm staying in Melbourne this year, having only just gone back to Canberra for Christmas and (Western) new year.

There are a lot of weird traditions and superstitions surrounding the lunar new year. For example, one is not suppose to cut their hair for a month.

You should also refrain from doing any house work on new year's day to avoid sweeping away all your luck and good fortune.

Another tradition is to consume copious amounts of things with auspicious sounding chinese names that are totally lost in translation. I'm talking about things like pig trotters, dried cyanobacteria, dried oysters, sticky cakes and whole fish. Yum.

Every kid's favourite tradition is, of course, to receive red envelopes of money from adults. For a long time, chinese new year was my one and only source of pocket money for the year!

As time has gone by, it seems that Australia has really embraced the chinese new year festivities. For me, I've become increasingly 'meh' about the whole thing.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

In pictures

Well, how bloody disorganised am I? It's taken a week but here is a selection of pictures from our recent vacation in Hong Kong.

Of course, for a fish fanatic, no trip to Hong Kong would be complete without a visit to the goldfish market. I don't approve of the way the fish are sold though. Poor things.

 We caught the cable car to Lantau Island to see the big buddha. It worked out quite well because the cable car was shut the following day for 5 months for maintenance so it was a fortuitous decision to go the day that we did.
 I visited Macau for the first time. It was interesting to see the Portuguese influence.
 Also took a ride on the mid level escalator, just for fun.
Naturally, as a tourist, we went on the peak tram up to Victoria Peak. The crowds were horrendous...
...but the view was worth the wait.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hong kong

Nathan and I just got back from a one week holiday in Hong Kong. We had a great time. If Hong Kong was a person, I reckon he (or she) would be the teenager that sleeps in but comes alive at night and stays out late.

Cantonese is the worst of the three Chinese dialects that I speak but it was sufficient to get us around. I'll post more details about the trip (with photos) when I have access to my laptop (which I actually left in the office, so determined was I about leaving work at work during my holiday).

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Deserted

The University is deserted. Students are on Summer break. Most of my colleagues are still on leave.

I'm currently Acting Head of Department, which is why I'm going to be working for the next three days. Then I've asked a colleague to fill in for me for a week (as Acting Acting Head of Department?) when Nathan and I are jet off to Hong Kong for a holiday.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The vase

We went to Gippsland to visit Nathan's folks. We stopped in at his mum's place first.

Truffles knocked over a giant vase and it smashed.

Nathan's mum was very good about it but we felt bad nonetheless and offered to find a replacement. In truth, it was a hideous looking vase that looked like something from a $2 shop but evidently it was worth a lot of money. It had accidentally been damaged previously and had been repaired so Nathan's mum was very pragmatic about it. In any case, it was beyond repair this time around.



Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year greetings

Happy New Year!

I spent last night on a roof top balcony watching the fireworks with some of Nathan's extended family.

Best socks ever...

I spent Christmas in Canberra. Aside from spending time with my family, a notable highlight was picking up this pair of hungry caterpillar socks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

All I want for Christmas...

...are these Japanese glow in the dark mushroom fridge magnets. I think they are super cool but I guess a science geek would think that.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas party

Nathan, Truffles and I went to a Christmas party last night. It was hosted by the lady we met at the dog park (the one who threw a birthday party for her dog at Daylesford several weeks ago).

The party was amazing. She put on a lavish feast and there was so much food. The party was all the more impressive considering that she had only arrived back in Australia from a work trip at 7.30am yesterday morning.

Our lady friend has a lot of gay friends. In fact, the gays greatly outnumbered the straights at last night's party. Might explain why she is still single!

It turns out our friend lives next door to a Western Bulldogs player so Nathan was especially excited when our friend said he might drop by. And sure enough, the neighbour came by briefly for a drink with his attractive blonde (they often are) girlfriend.

The player is of course a good looking guy and was quickly set upon by some of the gays at the party. I urged Nathan to go up for a chat (and selfie), which he did. Nathan sent the photo to his cousins and made them very jealous. When the player and his girlfriend left, our friend said that this was a different girlfriend to the last one she had met. Oh well...I guess attractive sports players have a lot of options.




Sunday, December 4, 2016

Compared to a Mongol

Lady in elevator: How tall are you?
Me: Almost 2 meters.
Lady in elevator: Yes. Of course, the Mongols were rather tall too, weren't they?

Out West

I've been in Western Australia for the past week for work.

The excitement began at Melbourne airport when I spotted a Qantas plane in the new livery, with the kangaroo sans arms. In the evolution of the company's logo, it seems that the roo is getting more and more minimalist.

Once I got to WA, I made my way to Fremantle by taxi. The driver was a south Korean dude who works as a taxi driver part time and spends the rest of his life working as a fly-in-fly-out miner up near Newman. Taxi drivers have such interesting back stories.

I was in Fremantle for a conference. Somehow I managed to stuff up my dates so I had an extra day in WA before my flight home so I decided to visit the University of Western Australia.

Wow...what a beautiful campus. They even have a resident peacock!


A highlight of my visit to UWA was catching up with a friend I hadn't seen in 12 years. We first met when I was living and working in the USA in 2004. She was a PhD student from Sweden. My friend has since married a Welsh guy, had a baby and settled in Australia.

After my UWA visit, I decided to walk into the city along the river, which took about 40 minutes (I think I got a little bit sunburnt). I then spent the next three hours visiting the Art Gallery of WA. God I love that place. AGWA has a really nice collection (not as large or as comprehensive as the NGV but they do a really good job of putting together their displays and exhibits).

All in all, I had a really nice visit to WA, capped off by the taxi ride back to Perth airport where I had a lovely conversation with the Hong Kong born driver, who used to be a chef.



Sunday, November 20, 2016

Poo(l) etiquette

There are certain rules governing acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in and around public swimming pools.

I would think that one of those would be to not let your children poop in the pool.

And, ok, assume that it was an unavoidable accident, I would think that the decent thing to do is to tell the other users of the pool (or at least the people in charge of the pool) so they can do something about it (e.g. jump out of the pool and take a shower!).

My students in Townsville found out the hard way that not everyone is considerate when it comes to poo(l) etiquette.

A kid did a shit in the motel swimming pool when my students were cooling off after fieldwork one day (lucikly I decided to take a nap instead). The parents of the kid discretely retrieved the offending floaters and then left without telling anyone. My students only found out when they saw said floaters in the bin.

Oh well, at least the parents had the decency to scoop out the poop.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Taxi drivers

Maybe I am simply getting too old but the idea of catching the skybus to and from the airport has become less and less appealing.

Nowadays, I tend to catch a taxi, especially if it's a work trip. And for the most part, I've had very few dramas. That was until my most recent taxi trip back from the airport.

It was my own stupidity really. I caught the taxi to the airport when I went to Brisbane last week and the same driver that took me to the airport also offered to pick me up and bring me home upon my return.

Big mistake.

First...a bit of context. The taxi rank outside the arrivals terminal is very convenient and passengers barely have to wait a few minutes because there is almost always a steady stream of taxis coming through. So...pre-booking a taxi is totally unnecessary.

Given that I had pre-booked my taxi, I had to walk to a different part of the airport. And, of course, my taxi driver was nowhere to be seen. He sent another colleague to collect me and I never saw the taxi. Tens of text messages and phone calls later, he offered to come and pick me up himself. I waited and waited (Nathan called me an idiot). Eventually, I gave up and walked back to the regular taxi rank. And 'yes', just as I was about to hop into a regular taxi, the original guy calls and says he has arrived. Too late. I was gone.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Queensland

I was in Queensland last week. Actually, I went up to Queensland twice.

The first trip was to visit colleagues at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I've not been to UQ before and I was pleasantly surprised. The jacarandas were in bloom and there was wildlife roaming all over campus. It has to be one of the nicest Australian universities I have ever visited. I decided to stay at South Bank, which allowed me to drop into the Queensland Art Gallery before going out to the airport to catch my flight back to Melbourne.

My second trip was decided at the last minute (hence the lunacy of flying back up to Queensland a few days after returning to Melbourne). The second time around I was off to Townsville to help my students collect fish for research. By the time I had arrived, the students had already managed a sizeable haul so it wasn't too much effort to collect the remaining fish (4000 in total) during my visit. I got back to Melbourne early this morning. The students are driving the fish back.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Fantastic Friday

I took the day off. I have too much annual leave and am trying to draw it down by Christmas.

I started the day by taking Truffles to the vet for her annual check up.

Our regular vet has left. We really liked the guy, least of all because the first time he ever met Truffles, he was trying so hard to engage with the dog that he was practically licking her face (we figure this guy must really likes animals and should be good at his job).

The vet used to own the practice but he sold his business a couple of years ago to a chain and was unhappy with the way the business was being run. Anyhow, he has now been replaced by a new guy, a South African.

I asked the new vet if he could teach me how to express Truffles' anal glands. He went into a lengthy explanation as to why it is best to have the glands squeezed by a professional. He was pretty convincing so I have decided to leave the task to him.

After I dropped Truffles back in the apartment, I made my way to the Museum to drop off some fish that I had promised the curator (yes, this is how a scientist spends his day off; reinforcing geeky science stereotypes).

Continuing on the fishy theme, I decided to treat myself at my favourite Japanese restaurant and ended up gorging on sashimi.

I was thinking of going to Fed Square afterwards but I heard there has been a gas leak and the whole precinct had to be evacuated so I came home instead.

I think I'm just going to relax for the rest of the day (I'll just ignore the big pile of exam papers sitting on my kitchen table).


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Mosquito attack

There are mosquitos everywhere. I've never seen it so bad. They seem to be swarming around outside the apartment, waiting for the right time to mount an attack.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Melbourne Cup

The Australian Research Council (ARC) is scheduled to announce funding outcomes today for research projects commencing in 2017. While most Australian's will be keeping their eyes on the races this afternoon, most academics (myself included) will be keeping their eyes on the ARC website. And a bit like the races, no matter how much you try to maximise the odds, it's all a bit of a lottery.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween

Australian's seem to be really embracing halloween nowadays. I'm glad I live in an apartment block with restricted card access...keeps the trick-or-treating kids away.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Viktor and Rolf

Nathan and I went to the NGV today to check out the exhibition Viktor and Rolf: Fashion artists. Nathan can be seen peeking through the hole of this dress which had been hacked by a chain saw!

True to the exhibition title, these talented designers really are artists. The clothes were amazing. Here are a few other examples...




Dog day

I took Truffles to a dog's birthday party near Daylesford yesterday. The birthday pooch belongs to a lady we met at the dog park several months ago. We hit it off and have now become friends. Poor lady was lamenting yesterday that she is still single because all her male friends are gay. I surveyed the people at the party and she was absolutely right.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Tardy

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

Finally...

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.