Sunday, August 28, 2016

Eel on toast

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

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

Friday, August 26, 2016

Myth busters...

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Not in my name

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

Actions and consequences

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


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Gaswork art park farmer's market

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

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

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

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Why you shouldn't lie to your mum

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

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

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

Internet woes

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

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

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

Friday, August 12, 2016

I'm back

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

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Coincidence

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

On our way to the US, we had a fantastic flight attendant, Tash, who looked after us extremely well. Coincidentally, she was on the same flight when we flew back to Australia several weeks later. We really hit it off. We found out that Tash was based in New Zealand and in the period that we were in the US, she had also gone on an American holiday with her friend. Ever since, both Nathan and I joke about bumping into Tash again.

Well...it happened. On Monday, I flew to London via Dubai to attend the very same international conference as the one I attended in New York in 2014 (this year it's being held in Exeter). During the Dubai-London leg, a flight attendant came by to pick up my plates and she looked like Tash. When she walked past again, I called her and, sure enough, it was her! The chance encounter was all the more remarkable because I had been in Business Class this time and Task was working in Economy and happened to come to the upper deck to lend a hand.

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Weird dream

I had a really weird dream this morning.

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

Hmmm, I wonder what that all means.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Melbourne architecture

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

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dream house

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


It's out

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

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

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pain in the gut

It seems that every time I've had to travel overseas for work in the past three years, there has been some kind of medical issue. Gout. Heart scares. That kind of stuff.

So...it shouldn't really come as a surprise that with a scheduled work trip to the UK later this month I find myself typing this post in hospital.

The reason for my predicament is truly bizarre.

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

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

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

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

Talking to the surgeon today.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Nice discovery


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

Jackpot


I read about this story in the Fairfax newspapers:

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

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

Friday, July 8, 2016

Shoulder issues

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

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Is he gay or isn't he?

I have no idea sometimes.

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

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

Umbrella, where are you?

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

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

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

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Greek lunch

Nathan and I went to Oakleigh for lunch today.

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

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

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

Election musings

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

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

Well...what a waste of my night.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

No parking

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

Some car space owners have clearly had enough.

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Our friend's boyfriend

Our friend's boyfriend just friended us on Facebook. We hope this is a good sign. The boyfriend is clearly making an effort and he's a really nice guy.

Nathan and I will refrain from doing what we said to another friend a few years ago when she was dating someone new. We liked the guy so much that we told our friend if she ever broke up with him, and if we had to choose, we'd choose the boyfriend. It didn't go down well.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Frida

There is a Frida Kahlo exhibition on at the Art Gallery of New South Wales at the moment.

Kahlo is most well known for her confronting self portraits but I think one of her most striking works is this one titled The Suicide of Dorothy Hale.
The picture was a commissioned by Clare Luce to commemorate the death of her friend, Hale, who jumped to her death from an apartment building in New York.

I don't know what Luce was thinking when she commissioned Kahlo to paint her friend's remembrance portrait but the finished product was most certainly not what Luce had expected.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Flower man

I'm loving this florist's arrangements. If I lived in Sydney, I reckon I'd be a regular visitor to his shop.




Saturday, June 25, 2016

Teddy bear banksia

The latest flowers on my dining room table are these cute teddy bear banksias, Banksia baueri. Nathan reckons they look like large hairy bollocks.

Nigella bites


I was lazing on the couch last weekend watching the Food network, when I got inspired by a healthy looking rice bowl dish that Nigella Lawson had whipped up.

I decided to head straight down to the supermarket and brought all the ingredients to make my own healthy rice bowl meals for the working week. It was a disaster.

The problem was that my rice bowl turned out nothing like Nigella's (I think I undercooked the rice).

Not wanting to tip the whole thing in the bin, I decided to set myself the challenge of seeing how many days I could actually eat the stuff before getting tired of it (Answer = I lasted the entire week....I can be stubborn). Admittedly, I also went about the task of tweaking the dish ever so slightly, day by day, in an effort to improve its palatability. After trying everything from fish sauce to actual grilled fish, the trick, it turned out, was lots and lots of avocado to counter the dry graininess of my undercooked rice.

I don't think I'll be doing healthy work lunches anytime again soon.

Moving office

A lot has happened around the world since my last post.

Fortunately, in my own little world, things have been fairly mundane.

I had been busy cleaning out my old office in preparation for moving into a new space this week. It's amazing how much crap I've accumulated in 10 years. And it's even more amazing how cathartic it has been to toss out a lot of that crap.

My new office is in an adjoining building. The office has been refurbished and it's a little bit fancy. I now have a desk that moves up and down and the lights are hooked up to motion sensors to save energy (so far, it keeps going off no matter how much I'm moving around). My new office is slightly smaller than my last but I think it's also a more functional space (and fortunately it's still big enough to house all the crap I didn't manage to throw out).

The actual building itself is old and crappy. I think it was build in the 60s and has a funky smell. The floors are uneven and you can see the patched up remnants of huge cracks in the walls where the building has shifted. I hope I don't plunge through the floors.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Saturday market and art surprise

My Mexican friend is in town. On Saturday morning we took her to the South Melbourne Markets for breakfast. I had to buy some flowers for a dinner party so we stopped by my favourite florist for some banksias (and a quick selfie).
 I took my friend to the NGV gift shop in the afternoon so she could buy some souvenirs. I was leafing through a book on aboriginal art and was surprised to see a painting from my collection reproduced in the book!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Ali

I met Ali 12 years ago. It was at a fancy Australian American fundraiser in New York. As a junior scientist, I was completely outside my comfort zone (It was only the second time I ever wore a tux; the first was at my year 12 formal). In a cavernous hall full of amazing people (from TV personalities to media moguls), he was by far the biggest star amongst a sea of stars. Ali was the one all the guests wanted to get a photograph with.

RIP.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Spicy


My colleague from Finland took over the lease from an Indian family in Carnegie last August when he came to Australia for work. The Indians left a bunch of stuff behind, including a pantry full of spices (many of which were unfamiliar to us).

A few weeks ago, my colleague returned to Finland, but not before inviting a bunch of us to his place for pizza. He needed to clear out all the things in the apartment so I took some of the spices (after getting some help identifying them from an Indian PhD student who also came for pizza).

I ended up cooking a delicious fish dish on the weekend with some of the spices (mustard seeds, coriander seed and tumeric). It was delicious.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday outing

After a rather crappy (wet) Saturday, we took full advantage of the 'dry' weather today to go on an outing this afternoon.
After some shopping (I needed to buy some new undies), we decided to go for afternoon tea at the National Gallery of Victoria. The sweets selection looked pretty awesome. If we didn't go for the scones, I would have opted for the macaroon at the front of the photo and Nathan would have gone for the lemon meringue tart.

I had read that the NGV has rehung their Pacific Island collection so I dragged Nathan for a look. This display of highland shields was pretty spectacular.
Nathan was perplexed by this minimalist sculpture titled 'Antarctica'.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

I want one of these...

No, it's not a clothes peg. It's a bench! The Moletta by Italian company Riva 1920.

Monday, May 23, 2016

What's the rush?


On my way to work, I find it amusing when people rudely push past others when leaving the train station – but still have to wait with the rest of us for the bus to arrive.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Bendigo

Nathan and I are off to Bendigo today to see the Marilyn Monroe exhibition with some friends.

I don't care much for Marilyn (I haven't seen any of her movies) but I do like Bendigo. Plus, Nathan and I are both curious to meet our friend's new boyfriend. His last boyfriend was a lovely bloke who, sadly, passed away a few years ago in a car accident. We are naturally excited that our friend has started seeing someone new.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Singapore

Nathan and I had a great time in Singapore. Alas, the holiday was over way too fast (and I had to go to work on the same day that I got back, which, in hindsight, was really stupid). 

Unfortunately, I did not find my pig intestine dish but I did have some amazing meals, including this chilli mud crab. Yum.
One of the highlights for me was the Garden by the Bay
The science geek in me particularly enjoyed the spectacular cloud forest greenhouse, dripping with rare orchids, ferns and pitcher plants.  



Thursday, May 5, 2016

Off on a holiday

I'm going back to the country of my birth for a few days. The last time I went to Singapore for an actual visit (i.e. walk out of the airport) was in 2002. I'm really looking forward to it. The top item on my 'to do' list is to eat a dish from my childhood...stewed pig intestines with rice noodles (kway chap).