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?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

All clear

Went to see my electrophysiologist yesterday. The second heart operation seems to have been a success and he hopes he will never have to see me again. The feeling is mutual.

On my way out of the consulting rooms, I received a text from Nathan saying his grandmother was in the same hospital getting some tests. I decided to go up to the ward for a visit.

Nathan's grandma is a fiercely independent lady who lives on her own in Inverloch. She had a fall in the bathroom ten weeks ago - and hasn't been right since. Nathan's aunt finally decided to take her to hospital here in Melbourne to see if they can figure out why she is still in pain.

Nathan's grandmother is all about appearances. She had her hair cut specifically for her hospital stay (though she complained that the hairdresser had cut it too short). When I saw her, she was wearing a necklace under her hospital gown. The nurse made her take it off for her x-ray appointment.

The most amusing thing of all was when she introduced me as her 'friend'. The nurse looked at me strangely to try to figure out the nature of this somewhat odd pairing of elderly caucasian lady and younger asian man.



Saturday, August 19, 2017

The ring


The poster for the horror movie says it all. Before you die, you see the ring. That's pretty much how I felt last weekend.

My friend and I were wandering along Gertrude Street and she wanted to go into a jewellery store for a browse. I obliged.

I'm not a jewellery wearer but I did appreciate the craftsmanship of the pieces in this particular store. In fact, my eyes almost instantly gravitated towards a beautiful (and large) silver stag beetle ring. Maybe it was the biologists in me but I was mesmerised. So, of course, I asked to try it on.

Big mistake.

The ring got stuck.

At first, I think my friend and the store owner thought I was joking. And I assume people do occasionally joke about these things. But it was no joke. I tugged and tugged and it just wouldn't come off. I then contemplated just buying the thing to cut short the embarrassment ($500 isn't that expensive, I thought to myself).

The store owner, ever the professional, rushed to the back of the shop and returned with a bottle of hand wash. He squirted some of it onto my finger. But nope, the ring was still stuck.  

He then retrieved a bottle of water and ushered me outside onto the busy sidewalk. By this point, I had seen the ring and I truly wanted to die.

Fortunately, water did the trick and I managed to slip the ring off my finger. I politely handed it back to the shop owner, apologised profusely and quickly made my exit.

Friday, July 28, 2017

One nation - or more?

Well, the current Australian Parliament has descended into quite a mess.

And it's all because of section 44 of The Constitution. Who would have thought? I don't even remember spending that much time studying that particular provision as an undergrad law student, although I do remember learning about the citizenship rule. Regardless, I bet law students (and their lecturers) across the country are having lots of interesting class discussions right now.

Malcolm Roberts from the One Nation party is an interesting case. I find it rather amusing that he is now having to 'defend' his allegiance to Australia, when the One Nation party has consistently made it their platform to spew the kind of divisive vitriol that has forced people like myself (i.e. migrant) to have to defend, time and time again, my own allegiance to Australia.

Just deserts.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Snail's pace

I felt well enough to spend some time outside the apartment today.

Nathan and I started with brunch at the South Melbourne Markets. We took the dog with us, which turned out to be a mistake. It was a very cold morning and dining al fresco was a bit too "fresco" for me. The dog enjoyed it though. She is a Scottish terrier cross after all.

After brunch, we dropped the dog back home and headed into the city to visit a designer furniture shop where I had my eyes on a designer quilt cover I had seen online. Unfortunately, the specific quilt I had in mind was not in stock and so the sales person had to check availability from one of their other stores.

Question: How long should it reasonably take for a sales person to do a check online? Well, in this case, it took almost an hour. It wasn't noticeable at first because there were lots of other amazing things in the shop to keep us mesmerised. But after 40 minutes or so, it started to become a bit of a drag. Ok, to be fair to the sales person, I also asked about a velvet cushion that was sitting in the showroom. So...1 hour to find out the availability of a quilt (I have no idea how much it will cost) and the price of a cushion.

Meanwhile, Missy Higgins (i.e. the singer) came into the store to ask about a chair she had ordered and had to wait because the sales person was 'busy' attending to us.

At some point, the sales person gave up and asked me for my contact details and said they'll be in touch.

After seeing this message on their Facebook page, I won't hold my breath. It seems that snail's pace is their trademark:

Very upset!!! Ordered 3 pendant lights 15 weeks ago, with a due date of 14 weeks. Heard nothing from them around due date, so I rang on the day before this date, spoke to someone who told me they would look into it, and she would ring me back, 2 days go by-nothing. So I ring again, and spoke to someone else, he said he would let me know as soon as he knew what was what. He did ring back within 10 minutes, told me they would be available from the Wednesday of the next week, so I said we will be in on the Thursday. Guess what, made the trek in, and NO pendants! They don't know where they are!!! So at this point in time, we have spent nearly $3000 On pendants we may never see! Bad form XXXXX!!! Our architecture recommended them, makes her look bad as well!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Resting at home

I was in hospital having my second catheter ablation on Monday.

Hopefully the procedure works this time, and will fix the terrible arrhythmias I've been having over the past couple of years.

Having already undergone the same procedure in March, I knew what to expect this time around.

I rocked up to the hospital, got lost (again) trying to find the right room, and changed into my hospital gown. I got fitted with the various electrodes, had a cannula put into my arm, and was wheeled into the catheter lab where I was put under general anaesthetic.

When I woke up again, it was all over. I was taken into my hospital room to recover and, as the anaesthetic worked its way out of the system, I began to feel better and better.

On Tuesday, I got to go home.

Nathan has made me promise to take it easy over the next week. The last time, I did too much too soon and that probably contributed to my gout flare up. I've learnt my lesson. I'm at home in my pjs with the dog watching TV. I'm trying not to attend to too much work stuff.

I won't know if the operation has been successful until a few weeks have passed.

I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Canberra

Geeze. Time flies and I've been very tardy with my blog posts.

Nathan and I both had a great time in Canberra.

On the Saturday, we met my sister's future in laws for lunch. They had flown down from Brisbane and are not fans of the cold so it was unfortunate that Canberra had record low temperatures that weekend.

After lunch, Nathan and I managed to get to the National Gallery for the Indigenous Art Triennial.

Well, strictly speaking, it has been about 5 years since the last triennial so the exhibition is really a quinquennial (Good to see that I'm not the only tardy one).

Sunday was the day of the actual wedding. Unfortunately, I had an upset stomach, which meant I spent a lot of my time dashing off to the loo but it was still a great day.

My sister and brother-in-law decided against a big Asian wedding so only immediate family members were in attendance.

Lunch was a multi-course degustation that took up almost the entire afternoon. In fact, the lunch went so long that my brother-in-law's family got changed into more comfy travel clothes at the restaurant and went straight to the airport afterwards for their early evening flight.

We went home for a couple of hours and then headed back out to a family dinner.

Friday, June 30, 2017

I'm back (but off again soon)

Four weeks in Finland came and went a lot quicker than I had hoped. I got back last Friday. Jet lag wasn't too bad this time around. I slept the whole day on Friday (and most of Saturday) and I was pretty much back to normal after that.

Nathan and I are heading to the airport again tomorrow. My youngest sister is getting married so we are going to Canberra. It's going to be a chilly weekend in the Capital. I'm bringing a good winter coat!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

European update

I've been busy doing fieldwork here in Finland. It's been nice getting out of the office and working outdoors in the fresh air. I love the smell of the birch and pine forests here. I've been spending quite a bit of time out on the water as we need to take a boat almost everyday out to an island where we are doing our experiments.

I took a break a few days ago and went to Berlin to visit my retired gallerist friend. After several weeks of healthy eating in Finland, everything went out the window during my visit to Germany. I had schnitzel and sausage and meat balls and pickled pork knuckle. I basically pigged out on pig.



Friday, May 26, 2017

No, no, no, no, no

I was sitting in a cafe and a man walked past. The first thing I noticed was his very smart blazer. But then I saw a belly button. Yes, the man was wearing a crop top under his blazer. I hope it's not a new nordic trend.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Northern lights

I arrived in Finland a couple of days ago. The flights over were fine. Of course, I had grand plans to work on the plane but that never happened. Instead, I watched a few movies and even managed to get some sleep.

The flight from Hong Kong to Helsinki was on an A350. It was the first time I had flown on one of those but I had read quite a bit about the plane's features, including lower cabin pressure, reduced noise levels etc. The only thing that stuck out for me though was the fancy overhead lighting, which Finnair was quite keen to show off with a northern lights 'simulation' as we were approaching Helsinki airport.

The normally super time efficient passage through the Helsinki-Vantaa airport was less efficient on this occasion thanks to a slow moving queue at passport control caused by a lady travelling on her own with seven unruly kids. I can't even imagine travelling with one child, let alone seven.

The airport now has a train connection to the city but old habits die hard and I ended up taking the bus.

Then it was off to meet my colleague at a nearby cafe for a smoked salmon breakfast.

Monday, May 15, 2017

European adventure

I'm heading to Finland next Monday. I will be gone for a month. It will be a work trip.

I got travel clearance from the cardiologist several weeks ago (and I'm hoping I will still be ok to go, despite the persistent heart issues).

I reckon the trip will actually be good for my health. I'll be out of the office, working on the shores of the Baltic Sea away from the frenetic pace of city life.

 Let's see.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Small change

I went to the chemist this afternoon to get some prescriptions filled and was standing in line to pay.

There was quite a bit of commotion with the elderly European couple already at the cash register. The gentleman was getting quite worked up and was shouting at the cashier. Meanwhile, the queue was getting longer. The dispute was over 95 cents (for haemorrhoid cream), which the man was refusing to pay.

I was just about to pull out a dollar coin when the guy's wife intervened and made her husband hand over the money. I guess she's the boss.

Meanwhile, Nathan was across the street getting a hair cut, which I later found out cost $85.

Don't order the kimchi

I went out for dinner with some friends the other night. It was one of those swanky Asian places targeted at Westerners. You know the type: trendy, fancy, and expensive.

We asked the waiter if she had any recommendations.

She rattled off the obvious dishes that had already caught my eye (pork belly, beef ribs).

Then, after going through the list of her favourite dishes, the waitress dished out a stern warning.

"Don't order the kimchi", she said. "It's SHIT."

I was rather taken back by her directness....and we heeded her advice.

PS. Both the pork belly and beef ribs were great.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Siamese twins

As a native English speaker, I take many things for granted that can be a source of puzzlement and frustration for my non-native English-speaking friends and colleagues. 

This week, a conversation I was having with a colleague got me looking into something that I subsequently found out is known in linguistics as an "irreversible binomial", or "Siamese twin." 

These are word pairings that appear in an irreversible fixed order. Examples include "salt and pepper", "ladies and gentleman", and "rock and roll". Flipping the order of these nouns would just be weird. The problem was I couldn't quite explain why we order them they way we do. Something just are the way they are, and I promptly directed my colleague to the wikipedia page on the topic. 




Saturday, May 6, 2017

Heart update

The specialist says my heart should really be settling about now. Unfortunately, it is not. I'll be seeing him in a few weeks time so will figure out where to from here. It's quite possible I may need to repeat the heart procedure (ablation). Encouragingly, the success rate is much higher after a repeat ablation.

I'm trying to get back to a normal routine. I just need to know my limits. I'm no longer able to run to catch a train or tram for bus and resolve to just waiting for the next one. I've got an overseas work trip planned later this month. I asked my boss to fly me business class (there is always a silver lining).

Saturday, April 22, 2017

heart problems

Unfortunately, recovery from the heart operation has not gone as well as I had hoped.

I've been getting really bad arrhythmias (i.e. rapid and irregular heart beats). In fact, I have been feeling worse than what I was feeling prior to the heart procedure.

Evidently, these recurrent episodes do not necessarily mean that the procedure has failed, as it is not uncommon to get arrhythmias while the heart is still recovering.

Nevertheless, the persistent and abnormal heart beats have been extremely unpleasant.  They are also very scary. After 3 days of putting up with my heart racing at 140 beats per minute, I decided to go to hospital, where they performed a cardioversion to basically stop and restart the heart. It worked for a few hours and then the heart started going crazy again.

Looks like I'm going to have to just deal with it and hope that the irregularities will settle down.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Milestone

Nathan and I are celebrating our ten year anniversary today (which is like an eternity in gay years). The day marks our very first date. We had pizza on Lyon Street. The date went for three days.

It's remarkable that we ended up in a relationship at all, as we are very different on so many levels. Nevertheless, these differences have worked out very well for us. And of course, we also share many things in common.

The last couple of years have been tough. Nathan's dad had to go into a nursing home and I've had recurrent health issues, but we have supported each other through of this – and no doubt a whole lot more into the future.

I love him to bits.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

After surgery

I had my heart procedure last week. Everything went well and I'm now resting at home. I think the heart and the point where they inserted the catheter in my groin are healing well. Unfortunately my right foot has decided to have gout issues so I'm hobbling around the house, dosed up on endone.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dogs bar

I caught  up with my gallerist friend at the end of the working week in St Kilda. We went to the Dogs Var. we bumped into my friend's neighbour (the one who cooks with pungent shrimp paste). They were chatting about the shrimp paste when I got back to our table. The neighbour seemed nice and was very apologetic. Oh well, my friend will be off to Germany for 6 months so I guess the neighbour can cook with as much shrimp paste as she wants during that time.

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.