Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sunny weekend

I made the most of the fine weather this weekend.

On Saturday, I took the dog on an epic walk. We first headed towards Port Melbourne. 

On the way, I spotted this beautiful wattle already in full bloom.
 Truffles and I stopped briefly to look at the Spirit of Tasmania before heading off to the beach for a run.

We then made our way to Albert Park and walked around the lake. According to the pedometer on my phone, we had walked twelve kilometres.

Today, Nathan and I went to Chinatown for lunch. We had intended to go for yum cha but all of the better restaurants were already full so we went to Shandong Mama instead.
 Tonight I made minestrone.













Sunday, July 8, 2018

Walking the dog

Truffles and I braved the cold yesterday and went for a nice walk. She was suitably rugged up—and so was I. We did about 10km in total, including a brief stop over at the Shrine of Remembrance.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Adut Akech

I remember a couple of years ago, David Jones put out a fashion catalogue with this incredible model on the cover. It was a bold move. And I remember being struck by the beauty of the image.
The image, sadly, sparked controversy; a consumer complained to David Jones about the cover not being representative of Australia.

Well, the model at the centre of the controversy, Adut Akech, is Australian and—judging by her very busy schedule walking for the likes of Valentino and Chanel in Paris recently—has clearly been doing very well.



Sunday, July 1, 2018

Career change

I'm happy being an academic. I love the balance of teaching and research. I love the academic freedom and the flexibility I have in terms of my work time. At the same time, I hope I'd be brave enough to be able to make the switch to something else if the job no longer excites me.

I was at a birthday dinner for a friend last night and started chatting to someone I hadn't met before. I found out that he had previously worked in a circus, been a dancer in a night club, and is now working for a bank. That's quite a diverse career path!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Home alone

The dog and I have had the apartment to ourselves these last couple of days while Nathan embarked on an epic road trip from Melbourne to the Gold Coast.

Friends of ours have decided to move up north. It turns out that the cost of getting cars transported can be quite high. So, our friend's husband left on Saturday to drive one of the family cars up to their new home. Nathan and the friend drove up with the second car early yesterday.

Most of my long road trips have been for work.  Can't say I'm much of a fan of the driving, but my trips do involve plenty of stops along the way, mostly to collect animals for scientific research, which makes it fun.
 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Sublime

The new NGV winter masterpieces show is in full swing. I'm waiting for the crowd to level off a bit before attempting a visit. I'm particularly excited to see this Rothko.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Infatuated

Nathan's friend (see last post) was telling us about her new beau (of eight weeks). He has an AVO against him (all 'made up' by the ex-wife according to Nathan's friend) and disapproves of men entering her house because it is disrespectful to him. She thinks he's wonderful. We hear alarm bells.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

One way street

Nathan and I spent the day hanging out with one of his friends who is visiting from interstate with her young son, who we adore.

Some friendships are very one sided. This is a prime example.

The entire day's conversation was all about her (and her wonderful new boyfriend). Nathan paid for brunch (she didn't even offer). In the afternoon, the friend asked us to take her son to our place because she needed to have a nap. Tonight, Nathan and I were both surprised when the friend and her son walked straight out of the restaurant after we finished dinner. The expectation was that we would pay for their meal, which we did (again). There was not even a 'thank you'.

And now Nathan has gone to the hotel to baby sit the son while the friend attends an industry event.

How bloody stupid are we?

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Bendigo

Last week, Nathan and I made a trip to the country to see the Marimekko exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery.
Marimekko is an iconic Finnish textile and fashion brand. Having lived and worked in Finland, I quickly became a fan of some of their printed designs, which are often bold, bright and gaudy. These qualities seem to contrast with the quiet, calm and introspective qualities I tend to associate with the Finnish people. And yet the Finns absolutely love Marimekko. I saw their psychedelic textiles—many are reissues of designs from the 1960s—hanging as curtains in my friend's apartments and I see them worn by little old Finnish ladies in the streets of Helsinki.
A Marimekko exhibition in rural Victoria seems a little odd but I think it reflects a resurgence in the popularity of the brand here in Australia in the last few years, with several stores opening in Sydney and Melbourne.

I particularly enjoyed seeing the actual paintings that eventually were made into the printed textiles.




Cowfish

This adorable creature is a cowfish. It was the highlight of my recent visit to a pet shop. I wish I had the room in my apartment to set up a marine aquarium.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Flowers and stick insects

I had a meeting at the zoo yesterday and was given the chance to go behind the scenes to check out their conservation work with these critically endangered beauties.
Picked up some less critically endangered beauties from the South Melbourne markets this morning on my morning walk with Truffles.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Saturday routine

Nathan works on Saturdays. We (i.e. Nathan, Truffles and I) all pile into the car in the morning to go with him to work.

The dog and I then walk home together. It's good exercise. We always go pass the South Melbourne markets and I usually end up getting some flowers (Truffles usually gets a dog treat from the florist). We are both happy.

The past few weeks, I've also taken to catching the tram out to Victoria Street so I can have Vietnamese noodle soup for lunch. Last week I had pho. This week I had bun bo hue.

After my big meal, I decided to walk down to Bridge Road. I visited a commercial gallery that was having an exhibition of 'sharp edge abstraction'. It was food for the soul. Stunning.

Back home, I pottered around the apartment for a few hours and then it was time for the dog and I to walk back to Nathan's work. The dog insists on sniffing every tree along the way so it takes us a while but I don't mind. We tend to get to Nathan's office early and wait for him to clock off. We then pile back in the car and drive home together.

That's my Saturday routine. And I love it.


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Old school

I signed up for a new Singapore Airlines frequent flyer card several months ago. I waited and waited. It never arrived. Naturally, I blamed Australia Post.

I rang up the airline the other day to see if I could get a replacement as I'm due to travel with the airline for work in July.

The guy on the phone (who, by the way, picked up after one ring...no waiting!) was very polite. He told me that the card has gone digital and I would have received instructions via email when I validated my card on how to get it onto my phone. Ooops.

Sorry Australia Post.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Glad to reach the end of the week

Something traumatic happened at work early this week that impacted a lot of colleagues.  I was in crisis management mode for most of Monday dealing with logistics. I thought I was coping well until I got home and had a bit of a cry. I felt much better after that.

I have to say that when things go bad, it was really heartening to see how everybody just stepped up to support each other. I'm fortunate to have great colleagues.

I'm just hoping for a relaxing and uneventful weekend to regroup.

The Field

I visited The Field Revisited exhibition at the NGV last week. Evidently, it was quite the landmark exhibition when it opened 50 years ago – and sparked a lot of controversy.




Unfortunately, the NGV wasn't able to track down all of the works from the original exhibition and is seeking public help to figure out the whereabouts of these 'lost' works.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Livers and a movie

We decided to go for a movie today.

I've been trying to convince Nathan to go and see A Quiet Place but he wasn't keen on horror. It seems that Emily Blunt (from The Devil Wears Prada) is not sufficient enough of a drawcard to entice Nathan into seeing that movie with me. Instead, we settled on the gay teen flick Love, Simon

The movie was showing at Cinema Nova so we headed out to Lygon Street for lunch first. We ended up going to Tiamo, which does a terrific chicken liver dish (I was in the mood for liver after seeing it served on My Kitchen Rules last night). Nathan went for the osso bucco.

The cinema was quite busy. I guess going to see a movie is a popular way to spend Anzac Day.

The movie seemed to have attracted three types of audience members: gay men, single women, and teenagers. Indeed, there was a whole row of teenage girls sitting at the very front and a whole row of older gay gentlemen sitting at the back, with the single ladies scattered everywhere in between.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the film, which had a decent story line and a good mix of funny and sad parts. It turned out to be a very pleasant day.



Aesop

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good Aesop product, whether it be a bottle of hand wash, the latest perfume, their room spray, or even shampoo for the dog. At some point, I've become obsessed with the brand (and no, this is not a paid endorsement).

Apart from their products, I'm also totally crushing on their stores. Each one is different. All are exquisitely designed.

One of my favourites is their shop in North Melbourne.

Nathan and I took Truffles to the dog park on Sunday and, on our way back, decided to stop along Errol Street for some tea and cake. Afterwards, we walked over to Aesop's just to look at the store.

The lady working there came out and we ended up having a chat. Apparently the sinks and taps are antiques that were brought back from Vienna. And the display bench was previously from a Sydney museum. So beautiful.



Pilfered pilea

The current obsession with indoor plants (driven largely by hipster types) seems to have no end in sight.

And among the most coveted of indoor plants is this beauty known as Pilea peperomioides or the Chinese money plant. 
Pilea used to be virtually non-existent here in Australia (which made it even more coveted). I've started to see it in a few specialist nurseries, often at extremely high prices. It's suppose to be super easy to grow but still remains rare in this country.

So, I was quite surprised to see a young lady with a large Pilea on the tram in the city last weekend. It was such a rare sight that I was almost tempted to ask her where she got it from. But I didn't.

And then earlier this week, I saw this on the Instagram page of one of my favourite nurseries in Fitzroy.
The accompanying message read, as follows:

Yesterday somebody stole our store baby. This is our Pilea a year ago and it has grown a fair bit since then but remained in this lovely blue pot by @lucyvanstoneceramics

If anybody knows where she ended up we'd love her back. If you see anybody sharing a pic of her on social media please share with us. She wasn't the most impressive Pilea in town but she was ours and belonged to a staff member.

Could the Pilea I saw on the tram be the same plant that was stolen from the nursery? 

Unfortunately, I can't remember any details that would be even vaguely useful (if it is, indeed, the same plant). 

 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Rabbit stew

My colleague went ferreting for rabbits a few weeks ago.

He is not much of a meat eater so he gave me one of the rabbits. I was initially very excited about making something delicious with it and had planned to cook the rabbit the evening I got it.

However, upon seeing the skinned carcass, I got a bit squeamish and popped it into the freezer, where it has sat...until now.

Today, I got up early, found a recipe with a nice picture (see below) and went to Woollies to buy the ingredients.
I got home, took the carcass out of the fridge, and took it out of bag to defrost.

I immediately started to retch.

I'm such a wuss. It's weird. I have no problem chopping up whole chickens or ducks but I think the rabbit just looks too mammalian. I guess I am too accustomed to getting my meat from the supermarket, already processed and looking less like whole animals.

Anyhow, the contorted rabbit carcass is sitting in the sink. I'm going to have to chop it up and cook it – whether I like it or not.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The guy on the street corner

I hate being solicited by people on street corners asking for donations.

Today, I had a rather unpleasant encounter on Oxford Street with a young man working for Oxfam.

Firstly, I feel a bit of context is justified as normally, I would just walk past without making eye contact or politely decline the invitation for a 'chat'. But earlier, in Hyde Park, I was asked by someone else from Oxfam to sign a petition, which I agreed to do (because I do believe in their cause).

Thinking it was for the same purpose, I engaged with the young man to tell him I had already spoken to her colleague.

Big mistake.

It seemed that Oxfam have teams of people out in the city trying to engage members of the public for multiple purposes today.

The guy who stopped me on Oxford Street was wanting me to sign up for monthly donations to provide clean drinking water to help people from war afflicted regions.

Once I figured out what this guy was up to, I was trapped. I politely declined his request for a donation, which was when he started to lay on the guilt trip.

He went on and on about how we are living in an affluent country and that we should all be doing more.

At this point, I should have just walked away.

But, no. Instead, I told him that I am already a supporter of Oxfam, that I buy stuff from the Oxfam shop, and that I used to volunteer my time to door knock for the organisation when I was younger. I told him that I felt I already did enough.

That's when he pulled out the passive aggressive line "It's interesting how most people feel they need to justify why they do not want to donate."

I lost my shit. I told him that his adversarial manner is a complete turn off and risk damaging the organisation.

Realising I was now wasting his time, he then tried to say that he no longer wanted to talk to me.

Now, that must be a first.

I reminded him that he was the one who approached me and I proceeded to rant on for another 10 minutes telling him how much damage he was doing to his organisation and how not to ostracise people who were already on the same team.

Nathan, who was standing next to me the entire time, eventually dragged me away.

An artist's artist

I've been reading up on an Australian artist called Guy Warren.
Guy is in his 90s and is still active (his most recent show was earlier this year in Sydney). And judging by the interviews I've seen on youtube, the man's mind is still super sharp.

Guy is an artist's artist. He is a war veteran, an Archibald prize winner, and is highly respected. One art critic described him as a 'much underrated artist'. Looking at his pictures and the long list of public institutions that have his works in their collections, it's astounding he isn't more well known. I stumbled across his paintings online and immediately fell in love with them.


 Meanwhile,  I see 'artists' with far less talent flogging off mass produced work of extremely low quality having much higher public profiles.



Sydney

I'm in Sydney with Nathan attending a friend's 40th.

The party was on Saturday night at a pub in Willougby. It was a smallish gathering, was fairly mellow affair, and I had great time.

Yesterday, we met up with another friend (also up in Sydney for the birthday) and her two teenage kids for a trip to the zoo. It's been a while since I've visited Taronga. I forgot how spectacular the views are looking back across the harbour towards the city skyline. I was especially envious of the giraffes, whose enclosure offered the best vantage point.

Nathan accompanied our friend's son on a high ropes 'adventure' at the zoo. It basically involves putting yourself into a harness and traversing obstacles in the tree tops above some of the animal enclosures. Two observations. First, Nathan is even more uncoordinated up in the air than he is on the ground (though I concede that walking on ropes does require a great deal of balance and coordination). Second, the ropes course is very demanding and Nathan was well and truly exhausted by the end of the session. Our friend's son, by contrast, barely broke a sweat, and wanted to go back for another round. Nathan said no.

We made our way back to the city by ferry. I had not seen the new (and controversial) Barangaroo development and I have to say I was quite impressed. The new ferry terminal connects visitors along the foreshore right up to Darling Harbour and judging by all the restaurants and tourists, I think it will be good for Sydney tourism.

Last night we met up again with our birthday friend and her family, and went up to the Centrepoint tower for a buffet dinner. I didn't realise that Centrepoint has had a name change and is now known as Sydney tower. Anyhow, the interior of the shopping centre is far more opulent than what I remembered when I visited there as a youngster.

I'd never been to the buffet up in the revolving section of the tower before. It was expensive so I had high expectations. The food was kind of 'meh' for the price. I foolishly challenged our friend's teenage son (the one who did the high ropes course with Nathan) to an oyster eating contest. I won (naturally) but downing oysters for competition is not as pleasant as eating them for enjoyment. I was impressed by the kid's determination. He polished off 15, which was quite remarkable for a 13 year old. I remember detesting raw oysters when I was his age.

We are flying back to Melbourne later today.




Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Covet

If I had a spare $125K, I'd consider buying this Sidney Nolan I saw at a commercial gallery today.

Colony

I had an extra day off today so decided to see the new NGV exhibition Colony: Australia 1770-1861.

The exhibition was arranged into themes, some of which made a lot of sense (e.g. European exploration before 1770; Landing and settlement at Lane Cove), but others seemed a bit random to me (e.g. Newcastle 1804: Tasmanian Aboriginal people). In any event, the exhibition brought back memories of grade 5 history lessons with Miss Eccleston.







Monday, April 2, 2018

Canberra and buffet musings

I'm back in Canberra for part of the Easter break.

I flew up on Saturday afternoon. The plane was near empty. It was terrific. Boarding was a breeze (no queues) and it took only a few minutes to disembark the aircraft.

We went to my folk's favourite buffet restaurant on Sunday. We got there 30 minutes early to line up at the cashier.

Mum and dad told me that the Chinese guy at the front of the queue goes there everyday. He eats, then goes for a walk outside the venue, and then comes back inside the restaurant and does a second bout of eating. That's taking 'all-you-can-eat' to an entirely new level. I seriously can't be bothered.

I stood behind a woman waiting for her to decide which piece of chicken she wanted. She was very indecisive. She picked a piece up with the tongs, held it in mid air for a brief second, and then placed the chicken back onto the server. She then took another piece of chicken and put it on her plate. Alas, it turns out she wanted that first piece of chicken after all, so she placed the piece that was already on her plate back on the server and took back the original piece. All the while, I patiently waited for her to finish so I could grab a piece of f*&king chicken.

Oh, and the roast duck. It's my pet peeve that the chefs at this place are super slow with replenishing the roast duck. I love duck so it drives me nuts.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Happy Birthday

A big happy birthday to everyone's favourite weatherman, Nate Byrne (and his magnificent dimples).

Sharks and dots

Damien Hirst, the British artist famed for his sharks (and other animals) in formaldehyde, has produced a new body of work which he entitled 'the veil series'.

The similarities with aboriginal art from the Utopia region of Central Australia are remarkable.
And so are the US$500,000-1,700,000 price tags.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

What were they thinking?

I was fortunate enough to visit the National Gallery of Australia's exhibition Indigenous Australia when I was in Berlin.

The exhibition was touted as masterworks from the NGA's extensive collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. And for me, it was certainly nice to see so many familiar works on display on the other side of the world.

But I was left wondering what the German audience would have thought of the show.

Oddly, there was not a single gallery label in sight. According to the lady at the front desk, "labels are no longer fashionable".

In my view, the NGA missed an extraordinary opportunity to educate the German audience about the spiritual, historical and political context behind the works.

Without any context, most audiences will just see a bunch of pretty painted canvases and barks, and a few odd-looking sculptures and video installations.

Design fail?

I was excited to see a Lufthansa plane painted in their new livery as I boarded my flight out of Frankfurt on Tuesday.

I like the clean, new look. It's very chic. Here is a picture I found online.
But it seems I'm in the minority.

Some marketing and design experts have been highly critical of the new design overhaul. Fans of the airline have also lamented the loss of the iconic Lufthansa yellow from the planes.
And it seems that the company is now having to go back and retweak the blue they have chosen, which looks unintentionally black under adverse weather conditions. Luckily they have only painted two of their planes in the new colours so far.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Venice and Berlin

I'm getting ready for my return flight back to Melbourne. I've had a terrific time in Europe (though it feels like I've been away for ages).

I thought I'd post some snaps from my trip.

Unsurprisingly, given the all the water, seafood is a speciality in Venice and surrounding.
Of course I had to have pizza...
...and pasta (with seafood) too.
After Venice, I had made plans to visit my friend in Berlin. The weather was generally crappy for most of my trip to Europe (though not as bad as the week before my arrival) but I did manage to get a few hours in Berlin with blue sky and sunshine.
One of my most favourite places to visit is the food hall at the up market department store KaDeWe. The food hall is stocked with all kinds of weird and wonderful produce form all around the world (including emu eggs!!).

I remember seeing bright red carabinero prawns during my last visit to the food hall two years ago. These delicacies come from the deep sea off the coast of Spain. I was excited to find out that customers can buy the seafood from the counter and a chef will then cook it up for a small fee.
Naturally, I got me some of those carabineros (I only had two because they were almost 100 euros a kilo). I also had some monkfish.
This is what a monkfish head looks like (basically, it's all teeth). Not the prettiest fish but boy was it tasty.
We wandered around the food hall afterwards and my friend invited on showing the sausage counter. Germans love their sausages.



Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Impressions of Venice

I like Venice. The weather hasn't been great but the light rain adds to the charm and romance (Venice is definitely a place to share and experience with someone you love).

It's low tourist season so I guess the place is far less crowded than what one might expect in the Summer.

It's been fun exploring the little laneways, trying not to get lost (so far, so good) and experiencing Italian food in Italy.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Safety first

And speaking of flying, Qantas is rolling out a new safety video in April. The video showcases Aussies being Aussies in exotic locations around the world. It also features one very handsome Qantas pilot.




Europe bound

I'm off to Europe late this evening for a conference in Italy.

I'll be flying Qatar. The travel agent said it's a terrific airline and the service is suppose to be excellent. The online reviews certainly seem to be glowing. Not sure about onetime performance though. I was checking flight tracker this morning and the last three flights out of Melbourne have all been severely delayed (one by as much as 12 hours). I'm keeping my fingers crossed it departs on time tonight.

The vector

My colleague had been in Japan attending a conference. He was not due back at work until next week so I was surprised when he dropped by my office on Thursday.

He had caught a bad cold and decided to come back early. I told him he should be at home resting instead of coughing and spluttering in my office.

He tried to reassure me, in between coughing fits, that he was at the tail end of his cold and was no longer contagious (why do sick people always try to tell others that they are not sick?).

This morning I woke up to a runny nose and a sore throat. Grrr.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

New Qantas livery

Qantas has painted one of their newest Boing 787s in an aboriginal design based on a painting by one of the country's most renowned indigenous artists, the late Emily Kngwarreye. Those who know Emily's works might be a bit disappointed. I don't think the design is easily recognisable as being representative of her work. Still, it's great that the national carrier is honouring a great artist in this way.
 The latest addition to the Qantas fleet is one of a number of planes to have been painted with aboriginal designs. Here are a few others.

And my favourite, a design based on the wonderful work of Paddy Bedford.