Friday, October 30, 2009

The health check up

Had to go to the doctor yesterday to get a health check before my trip to Berlin (a condition of international work travel). Was hoping to get all my immunisations in the one hit but, of course, it is not such a simple process...I was going to need blood tests, another appointment with the nurse blah blah blah. On top of it all, I hadn't realised (until I was standing in front of the receptionist) that my medicare card had expired. Sigh. It was one of those days.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The woman with the bags

I was waiting at the train station yesterday afternoon minding my own business when a woman approaches the bench where I am sitting and asks me for help. I look up and notice she has three large bags next to her on the platform. She explained that some guy at the previous station had been putting his bags onto the train when the door suddenly closed, shutting out the bags' owner and stranding him at the previous station. Apparently, as the train was leaving, the woman shouted to the man through the glass doors to tell him to meet her at the next station (i.e. mine) but, after two trains had come and gone, she was starting to panic. I helped her with the bags onto the next city bound train. She needed to get off at the next station. I told her to speak to the customer services people where she was getting off. I helped her get the bags off the train. I felt bad for the lady (who was obviously trying to do the right thing herself) but I'm not sure what more I could have done to was late and I needed to get home.

The email that made me smile

It hasn't been a very good start to the week. The ARC, Australia's national competitive research scheme, released their list of successful grant applicants on Monday. Unfortunately, neither of the research proposals I submitted for consideration got funded.

My disappointment, however, was tempered somewhat by an email from a colleague from Finland who will be visiting Melbourne in the new year. I offered for my friend and her youngish daughter to stay at my place. She emailed me today to tell me that she had told her daughter that I am living with a man. The daughter and I have interacted in the past (when I was working in Finland) and she remarked to her mother that I 'seem so normal' (I guess even kids have stereotypes). Still, my colleague told me that her daughter was very accepting in the knowledge that her mum won't be getting any attention from me and Nathan when they come to stay.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The surprisingly pleasant weekend

I must admit that I had pretty much written off this weekend. It's honours thesis deadline for one of my students and I thought I'd be stuck at home all weekend correcting drafts before the due date on Monday. Fortunately, the student sent me a draft on Friday night which I proceeded to edit that evening (and again on Saturday morning) and that was that. Finished! The rest of the weekend pretty much still ahead of me.

I decided to reward myself with a visit to a gallery in Richmond to see an exhibition of aboriginal art. I had gone to the same gallery a couple of weeks ago with Nathan where we shown the works sitting at the back. The spunky chick who worked at the gallery showed us two paintings that had already been reserved for the National Gallery of Victoria. One was a huge collaborative work comprising multicoloured circles. Another was a smaller, more abstract piece with paint smeared over the canvas in blocks of rich plum and straw yellow. Most of the rest of the paintings were rather average. Some looked like crap.

Anyhoo...on my return visit, the exhibition was up. The spunky chick had hung all the paintings and did an amazing job grouping the pieces together that even the crap ones looked absolutely superb. She tells me that the NGV had decided not to take the smaller canvas because they already had some good works by that artist in the collection. After much deliberation, I decided to buy the painting for myself.

Evening was spent with friends of Nathan's at a vietnamese restaurant that wasn't Minh Minh's. This was most unexpected as it seems that Minh Minh's had been THE venue of choice everytime we go out with these people. The food at the new place was good but very westernised.The dinner was a birthday celebration for the ex of one of Nathan's friend, Ad. The ex is a lovely man...italian, beautiful and a really decent guy (and I suspect most of us actually like him more than Ad). Still, all the people at the dinner were friends of Ad. This I found a little odd. Either the ex has no other friends of his own or the birthday was really just an excuse for Ad to get together with his friends. Regardless, with the exception of Nathan's singing (they had a karaoke), I had a really great time. And no, I didn't kiss the birthday boy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Been chasing reptiles in Newtown in Sydney the last couple of days. The collecting site is an old cemetery just off King Street. At first, it felt a little disconcerting clambering over old graves and flipping over broken tomb stones to get at the lizards but by day 3, we had become quite accomplished at grabbing lizards (whilst avoiding disused syringes). It's amazing how many people use the cemetery, either as a quiet place to sit and read or to walk their dogs.

Just got back to the motel with our quota of lizards. Reptiles are all happily feasting on baby crickets (purchased from the petshop at the Broadway Shopping Centre). Lizard catchers are happily resting up after three days of intensive fieldwork.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Nate and I took a couple of days off work and headed up to Daylesford with some interstate friends. We stayed at a lovely B&B owned by a couple who decided on a seachange and had purchased the building on a whim after falling in love withit during a weekend visit nine years earlier. The building has since been lovingly restored. By far the highlight was the fireplace in the reading room which was a welcomed retreat after a wet and cold drive up from Melbourne. During a brief break in the weather, we decided to leave the warmth of the reading room and ventured outside for a stroll around the main streets. Among the purchases during our foray into town was a gollywog from an antique store (whom we later decided to name "Bob"). In the evening, we took a short drive to the Lakehouse, a restaurant that was highly recommended by colleagues back in Melbourne. We were not disappointed. The food was amazing.

The next day, we went for a stroll up to the Botanic Gardens and then took a drive to nearby Hepburn Springs. A brief visit to the Convant gallery was followed by a drive up to Castlemaine for lunch, afternoon tea in Bendigo and an evening stroll on Mount Macedon before getting back into Melbourne in time for dinner last night at my favourite restaurant, The Waterfront (try the snapper is absolutely amazing).

Chasing reptiles in Sydney over the next few days around Newtown for work. Should be fun!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The art gallery...

Had a rather busy Saturday yesterday. It began with brunch with some friends at a restaurant by the banks of the Yarra and ended with a night out at the Greyhound watching some weird-ass tropical-themed drag finale.

Perhaps the thing that stuck out the most for me yesterday came from a visit to an aboriginal art gallery that is about to put on a show of artworks from one of my favourite (and also one of the newest) art communities located in Western Australia. The NGV had bought half a dozen paintings from their first sellout show a couple of years ago (some of which are currently hanging on the walls at the Ian Potter Centre at Fed Square). It will be a much anticipated show. Several of the paintings have already been purchased even before the show began (including two pieces for the NGV). What struck me, however, was the quality of the works. Some were beautiful but there were also some that were real shockers. Yes, I is subjective and what may be a shocker to one person may be seen as a masterpiece to another but some of the pieces were of genuinely poor quality (even the person working at the gallery was amazed that they had made their way out of the studio). I guess even the best artists occassionally produce crap. However, whereas most non-indigenous artists would be self-selecting, Aboriginal artists may not necessarily share (or understand) the aesthetics of hungry art consumers and, in the aboriginal art world, there is a greater role for the mangers of the community art centres to impose quality control and to ensure only the 'best' works go out to market. The pressure and demand for aboriginal works, however, is intense and poor quality works routinely appear for sale. At the end of the day, I think it does a huge injustic to the artists.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The week after the conference

It's been a week of playing 'catch-ups' at work after the conference in Canberra. It's amazing how much stuff can acculmulate on your desk when you're away. This was also the week that two of my friends decided to come to Melbourne for a last minute sojourn before packing up their belongings (including two dogs) and moving to San Francisco. I will miss them both very much. D and I have been friends since the 4th grade. We hung out a lot and he knew my colleagues very well (even though he was working as a computer games animator andwas therefore outside of science). Funnily, back in the closeted days before he knew I was gay, he used to tell everyone that I was his 'heterosexual life partner'. Thinking back, his comment still makes me chuckle....the poor guy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Beautiful Canberra (and a bollywood twist)

My visit to Canberra is almost coming to an end. And what a fantastic visit it has been. I caught up with a bunch of friends and colleagues at the conference last week, including several whom I haven't seen for many, many years.

Took some colleagues sight seeing on Friday which saw us visiting most of Canberra's major tourist offerings (old and new parliament house, the National Gallery, High Court and War memorial).

Nathan came up from Melbourne yesterday to join me at the wedding celebration of one of my oldest friends (whom I've known since primary school). It was a backyard affair, celebrated under a huge marquis with giant japanese laterns and cherry blossoms (pilfered from the streets of suburban Canberra the night before). The bride was so beautiful and my friend looked absolutely dashing in his suit. The ceremony was one of the best I have ever attended. The speeches were amazing, sad at times, but also funny and touching. The bride even quoted Shakira.

After the wedding, Nate and I caught up with some other friends in town for yummy indian food at the Blu Ginger. I also had indian food the night before at a restaurant called Bollywood Dimensions which is owned by a Bollwood dance instructor. The restaurant had a TV playing bollywood video clips. The people in those clips always seem so happy. I've always wondered what they might be singing about. Perhaps this...

Thursday, October 1, 2009


The conference ended today but not before I managed to embarrass myself by going into the women's toilets by accident. You'd think the lack of a urinal would have been a give away. No. I only realized I was in the wrong toilet when I was mid way through my piss and noticed that there was a sanitary napkin disposal unit next to the toilet bowl. It still took me a split second before reality dawned on me. Fortunately, no one walked in.