Sunday, December 17, 2017

Oops

My trusty pill box is great for reminding me to take my meds each day. But I learnt this week that the box is only as good as the medicine you put into it.

For the past week, instead of taking my regular anti gout meds, I had been unknowingly taking high doses of corticosteroids! Both drugs are white and round and came in very similar looking containers. Oops.

I now have to slowly wean myself off the corticosteroids to avoid withdrawal symptoms (and not compete in any competitive sporting events with mandatory drug testing).

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hot day

The weather forecast has caused me to rethink my plans today. I think I'll be relaxing at home under the air conditioner with the dog.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Work of art

Our last Dean courted quite a bit of controversy getting the University to acquire all kinds of weird and wonderful artwork for our work environment. These works are changed periodically. I recently went into the foyer of one of our building following a leak and was amused to see this...
Can you guess which is the actual work of art?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Weekend flowers

Bought a gigantic artichoke from the florist this week. Decorative and edible!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Over the top

Nathan and I went to a homewares shop in Collingwood today.

It has a bit of an 'ye olde' feel about it.

There was no cash register, the laptop computer was hidden behind an old box and the sales attendants wrote out the receipt by hand.

Fine. I can see what the shop is trying to achieve.

But....with a huge line of customers all waiting for their purchases to be individually hand written onto a piece of paper, the whole process seemed unnecessarily cumbersome and time consuming. It was also resource intensive; it took two sales assistants to process the order. One to pack the item and the other to add the item onto the hand written receipt.

The situation wasn't helped by the fact that many items did not have price tags so the sales attendants had to look up the items on the lap top.

Meanwhile, three other sales attendants stood nearby doing nothing.

Truff's Christmas present

Truffles has a new dog bowl for Christmas.

It was hand made in Melbourne by an architect-turned-ceramicist. And 'yes', it was very expensive. In fact, it costs more than any of the human crockery in the house.

I just need to make sure that my (exceedingly) clumsy other half doesn't accidentally break it in the wash.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Celebrating marriage equality

Even the animals are celebrating the passage of Australia's marriage equality legislation.

Jacaranda in South Melbourne

I'm continuing to draw down my annual leave, which means 2 day working weeks from now until Christmas. Woohoo!

Today, Truffles and I walked with Nathan to his work in South Melbourne and we wandered down a street (I think it was Napier) that was lined with beautiful flowering jacarandas. Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos.

I normally associate jacarandas with Sydney and Brisbane. I didn't realise they did so well in Melbourne. Even though most of the flowers were past their prime and the trees are not as big as the ones I found on the web from more subtropical regions (see above example), the sight was still quite stunning.


More science please

I was at home watching ABC News this morning and I see they have a very good looking and charismatic weather presenter.
Of course, I had to do some further research.

His name is Nate Byrne and he is a meteorologist, science communicator, oceanographer and a former lieutenant of the Royal Australian Navy. Can he be any more perfect?


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Gift wrapping

Gift wrapping seems to be part of the service in many shop nowadays.

When it's free, the demand seems to be especially high. Yesterday, I bought a few things from a shop and was told there would be a 1-1.5 hour wait. I left the items with the shop attendant and picked them up today. They had been beautifully wrapped (much better than what I could have possibly done). I was very impressed.

I had to buy a birthday present today and was able to take advantage of the Christmas wrapping service to get the birthday gift wrapped too. Perfect!

Perfume

The sales assistant sprayed the perfume on my wrist. I took a sniff.

Me: "It smells like the moist towelettes you get at KFC."
Sales assistant: "Wait a few minutes for the alcohol to dissipate."
Me: "Oh yeah. It smell much better now."

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Same but different

I learnt something new today at the optometrist.

Apparently there are frames specifically designed for Asian faces.

I. had. no. idea.

For most of my life, I've had to contend with the challenge of finding glasses that I not only like (easy), but are also large enough for my gigantic head (difficult) and will sit properly on my Asian face (difficult).

Well, Asian glasses do exist. They are specially designed to accomodate small nose bridges and high cheek bones.

And, to my absolute delight, Tom Ford makes Asian glasses! How wonderful is that?

I guess it makes good economic sense given that almost 60% of humanity have Asian faces.

Still no solution to big heads though.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Ice tea

I'm kinda obsessed with iced tea at the moment.

A couple of weeks ago I was gifted an assortment of teas as a thank you gift. Among them was a French earl grey. It was delicious and I thought it would work very well as a cold drink. And that's how the obsession started.

Since then, I've been brewing all kinds of different teas and popping them in the fridge. Even Nathan (a caramel latte guy) is getting into them.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

This is how to bid on a painting...

Last month, the most expensive painting in the world was sold via Christies.

I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to fork out US$450 million on a painting (I get nervous bidding for artworks worth a few thousand dollars).

This is the action from the auction room...

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Raining in Canberra

Well, it seems I should have flown further north to escape the deluge.

It started raining last night in Canberra and hasn't stopped. I do like the sound and smell and sight of rain though (especially if I don't have to be outside).

Friday, December 1, 2017

Canberra bound

I'm going to Canberra today.

It was a spontaneous decision. I needed to spend the rest of the Qantas gift voucher I bought myself a year ago (to earn extra Qantas points).

I was incredibly stupid. I've flown so much this year but I kept 'saving' my voucher for 'later' (I don't know why). Next time I'll know better and  actually use the voucher as soon as I can to avoid flying-for-the-sake-of-flying simply to try to use up the voucher towards the expiry date.

Oh well, it will be nice to go to see the family.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

I heart my new orchid

I bought an orchid on eBay the other day. Nathan and I went to pick it up. last weekend. The seller was an elderly man with a think European accent. He had a beautiful green house packed full of weird and wonderful plants.

I told him I bought the orchid he was selling because I liked the heart-shaped leaves. He looked at me with a smile. The species name phyllocardia means 'heart shaped'. Aha! Of course. Shame on me. As a biologist I should have made the connection.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Fortuitous day off

I've got a lot of leave scheduled between now and Christmas. I can't take it all in one huge block (too much stuff going on at work, including supervising my research students). So, instead, I've just been picking random days of the week when I don't have anything scheduled in my diary.

This randomness has actually been quite fortuitous. I happened to be on leave when the results of the postal survey came out so I got to watch the event unfold on TV.

And then, today, I got to watch Magda Szubanski (my new favourite person in the whole wide world) deliver a touching speech at the national Press Club. This was followed by a live cross to Parliament House to watch the same sex marriage legislation pass the senate.

I wonder if I'll be on leave when the legislation passes the House of Representatives?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sleeper

In the art world, a 'sleeper' describes an artwork whose real value has been missed.

I've certainly read news stories about collectors picking up bargains at auction that turn out to be worth millions.

I don't think I'll ever have that kind of luck.

But I do feel incredibly lucky tonight to have picked up a painting by an artist who I love, at a fraction of the painting's true value.

The story of my association with the painting goes back several years. I first saw it in my friend's gallery. It was the second most expensive work in the exhibition. And there was no way I could have justified forking out the asking price (which was equivalent to the cost of a small car). It didn't matter anyway. The painting was sold.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when the same painting turned up in an online auction catalogue with a sales estimate a mere fraction of the original sale price. I couldn't believe my eyes.

I spoke to my gallerist friend and she was just as surprised as I was. This was a very important painting by a very important indigenous artist, whose works are held in major institutional collections, including the National Gallery of Australia.

I went to the auction tonight. I was very nervous but luck was on my side. I got it for a steal.

I'm stoked.

Gareth Samson

I met up with my retired German friend a few weeks ago for lunch. Afterwards, she took me to see the Gareth Samson retrospective at the NGV. I had not heard of Samson before. The exhibition was amazing. I love his use of colours. There was one gallery space within the exhibition that came with a warning because of graphic content (i.e. penises).





Monday, November 27, 2017

Too much leave

My university is making me draw down my annual leave  before the end of the year, otherwise I will be deemed to be on leave in January whether I want to be or not.

I've decided to select a bunch of days between now and Christmas to allocate as leave days. I don't really have anything planned.

I guess it's nice just to do nothing!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Spontaneous purchase

I went to a designer furniture end of year sale. Big mistake. I didn't realise I needed a fluffy pouf until I saw one. It is not very comfortable to sit on and, even with the heavy discount, still cost a fortune. The dog (black one on the right) is less than impressed.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tale of two restaurants

Nathan and I went for dinner with some friends last night. The restaurant is always busy and last night was no exception. We ordered our meal. They stuffed up one of the orders, which was not a big deal. However, it did mean that one of our friends had to wait a bit longer for her meal to arrive. Still, we felt a lot of pressure to eat quickly, as the waiters kept coming over to try to take away our bowls and plates before we had finished. In fact, Nathan went to the bathroom and when he returned, his plate (which still had food on it) had been taken away without the rest of us even noticing. In the end, the friend whose meal arrived late still had to skol her beer because the waiter wanted to clear our table in preparation for the next customers. By the time we had walked out the restaurant, there was already other customers at our newly vacated table. It was conveyor belt service.

Contrast last night's experience with the lunch I just had with a friend at another restaurant. The kitchen also stuffed up the order. Again, it wasn't a big deal and we waited for my friend's meal to arrive without any complaint. Still, when the bill came, we were taken by surprise when the waitress said they had deducted the cost of both of our drinks due to the 'inconvenience'. It was unexpected and unnecessary but we appreciated the sentiment. We left what would have been the cost of the drinks as a tip.


Monday, October 30, 2017

In the desert

I've been in Israel.

I had no idea that there was a commemoration for the Battle of Beersheba taking place this week and was puzzled by all the Australian flags lining the route to Beersheba.

I've been in the desert most of last week, attending a workshop at a research institute. The days were long and intense but I still managed to do some sightseeing and experience the wonders of the local wildlife.

Here is a view near where I was working/staying. It looks like a scene from Star Wars.
These critters are called ibex. They were everywhere.
Here is a horned viper (it was a tiny baby...and super cute).
And my absolute highlight was seeing scorpions. Under a 'black' light (like the ones they use in a nightclub), they fluoresce brilliant turquoise.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Oglebox

I  must admit I was initially sceptical of the format but I'm very much a Gogglebox fan. The Aussie version is so much better than the British (snore) version.

There are some new people this season. They are Lebanese Aussies. All three are very attractive. Nathan noted that the guy on the left is always 'man spreading'. I'm not sure if it was complaint.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Adelaide

I had a Qantas gift voucher I needed to redeem before the end of the year so Nathan and I decided to go to Adelaide for a day trip.

We arrived in the mid morning and headed to a lovely cafe for brekky before wandering over to the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA). I've never been to AGSA before and I was really impressed by the way they display their collections. Old paintings hung alongside contemporary sculptures. It was fantastic. The highlight for me was this wall of Nolan portraits.
Our visit to Adelaide happen to coincide with Tarnanthi, the festival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art so we also got to check out the exhibition at AGSA and also visit the aboriginal art fair at the nearby Tandanya Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Impressively, I managed to resist temptation and only bought an exhibition catalogue. Nathan bought a tea towel.

Afterwards we went to Rundle Mall and had drinks on the balcony of the Richmond Hotel overlooking the pedestrian strip where a street performer was trying to get out of a Houdini straitjacket.

From Rundle Mall, we made our way to the South Australia Health and Medical Research Institute, which is next to the Royal Adelaide Hospital,  to check out the beautifully designed building (it reminds me of the outer surface of a durian).
Soon, it was time to take an uber back to the airport. We got back to Melbourne in the early evening.

It was a great day.

Next week, I'm off to Israel!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sore back

I managed to hurt my lower back about two weeks ago. Work colleagues, who have seen me waddle around the department have all been encouraging me to do yoga or pilates (I seem to be the only person at work not doing yoga/pilates!). I've told them I'll think about it (the answer is probably going to be 'no').

I decided, instead, to go the physiotherapist. I've never been to the physio before and I would say that it has been a generally positive experience (I guess it helped that the physiotherapist was ridiculously good looking).

I was pleasantly surprised that the work he did on my back was able to bring almost instant relief from the original back pain, though he did inflict a great deal of short term pain with his squeezing and poking and pressing.

It's still not 100% though so I'm going to have to go back for repeated visits.

I don't mind.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Another wedding

One of my cousins is getting married in Melbourne this weekend. There will be a large group of relatives descending from Sydney and Canberra. I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone.

Nathan was puzzled why my cousin had chosen to get married on AFL grand final weekend, when flights and accommodation are at a premium.

I don't think my cousin realised when they settled on the date.

Weird flowers

I saw these at a florist in North Melbourne today and had to get them. I have no idea what they are but they look weird and smell wonderful.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The crappiest table in the restaurant

I took a visiting Asian American Professor for Sunday brunch last week. We went to a very fancy restaurant in the city and got there super early in order to secure a table. In fact, we got there before the restaurant had even opened and there was already a small queue.

We waited our turn and a waitress asked us to follow her. Her colleague seemed perplexed and asked her where she was taking us and the colleague's response ("why?") should have been an early warning.

Sure enough, despite lots of unreserved 2 seater tables everywhere, our waitress took us up a ramp to a crappy long bench table, where we would have to sit side by side (and no doubt with others, as the restaurant filled).

We politely asked another waiter if we could sit at one of the two seater tables instead. We were quickly relocated without any fuss.

Ok, so maybe the waitress was just stupid but I couldn't help but wonder why we had been taken to the crappiest part of the restaurant when there were so many empty tables. Surely she couldn't have been that stupid?

My guest was oblivious but I did notice that the best tables were otherwise filled in order of arrival and the crappy long bench that we had been brought to was filled last.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Choosing to believe

So,  One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts chose to believe that he was not a British citizen. What a ridiculously weak argument.

This says a lot about the man, who also chooses to believe that climate change is not a reality.

It seems that Malcolm's reality is guided by beliefs rather than evidence.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Postal vote

Nathan and I both filled out our same-sex marriage surveys and have posted them back to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

As a scientist, I see so many design flaws with the process that, whichever way the decision goes, it's legitimacy is vulnerable to being questioned.

We all know that the compulsory plebiscite was blocked by the Senate and the Government has decided to go for a non compulsory postal survey instead.

Naturally, this means that only the views of a portion of the population will be sampled because not everyone is going to return their postal survey. Gathering data on only a 'subsample' of the population is widely and legitimately used in science – provided that the design of the subsampling is scientifically sound. Herein lies my biggest issue. Those who choose to participate and return their surveys will not necessarily be representative of the population as a whole because they will be a self-selecting bunch of individuals, i.e., those who feel strongly enough about the issue to vote. If one is going to subsample a population, then one needs to randomise the sampling process. The ABS should know this. It's one of the basics of good scientific design.

The question being asked is also being confused. The 'no' campaign has been raising a bunch of questions that have very little to do with the specific question at hand, which is about whether the law should be changed to allow same sex couples to marry. Thus, if some people are answering 'no' because they don't agree with some of the other issues being raised (boys wearing dresses; safe schools program), then this potentially also calls into question the validity of some of the returned surveys.

I've only raised some of the scientific issues. There are, in fact, many problems that could affect the credibility of the postal survey, from undelivered survey forms to people filling out multiple surveys.

And that's the worry!


Friday, September 1, 2017

Canberra bound

I'm off to Canberra today. Lots of celebration going on this weekend.

Youngest sis and brother-in-law are inviting extended family for wedding lunch. Grandma's birthday is coming up. And, of course, it's Father's Day on Sunday.

I'm also going to have to (finally) clean my fish tank, which is still at my folk's house. I have only one fish left. Since it was already an adult when I bought it, it's at least 19 years old!


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

What the?

I know I should know the answer to this (being a biologist, after all) but I'm stumped.

I saw this photo in an interior design magazine and I'm trying to figure out whether the creature on the furry ottoman is an alpaca or not. I think the context (an alpaca in a London apartment?) is contributing to my confusion.


Thoughts?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Trained

The dog has me well trained.

She stands on my chest every morning, willing me to wake up (usually before 6am).

I go downstairs to heat her food (Did I mention Truffles has mince, rice and vegetables for breakfast?).

She comes down when it cools sufficiently to eat.

After she eats, she goes to toilet, and then runs back up to bed.

No sleep ins for me.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Stylish

I don't care much for boxing but I do care for folks with a sense of style. And Conor McGregor has it in spades.





Dump

Nathan and I went to an open house inspection yesterday (yep, I might be soon moving to the suburbs...let's see).

The house was beautiful but I was perplexed I couldn't find the second bathroom/toilet.

The mystery was later solved when we figured out that the locked door leading from the laundry was, in fact, the toilet – and that another prospective buyer had been taking a dump.

It got me thinking...is it ok to be using the toilet for number 2s at an open house?