Thursday, April 29, 2010

The assumption

Fellow blogger, Victor, was recounting a story about the assumptions straight people make. Today, I was reminded of his post when I went to pick up some jeans that I had brought in to get mended at a shop at Southern Cross Station. I had gone to the shop a few days earlier with my youngest sister who is in town in the lead up to my other sister's wedding. When I went back today, the chinese lady asked me whether the woman I was with was my wife or my girlfriend. I found this a little odd since Nathan and I are regulars at the shop and even pick up each others clothing. Was the owner yet another straight person making an assumption or was she subtly trying to figure out if I was gay?

Work mayhem

I'm on leave for the next two weeks. Naturally, everything seems to have turned to shit whilst I am away (and I've only been absent for 2 days!). I have a despirited graduate student who just had two manuscripts rejected for publication, another student withdraw from honours due to personal issues and a third who is unable to meet a forthcoming thesis deadline due to a serious health problem. I really need to refrain from checking my work emails when I'm on 'holiday' but, then again, these are real people I am dealing with (and care about) so its not easy to switch them out of my life. What to do? Anyhoo...I think I managed to sort everything out whilst listening to bad 90s dance music and waiting to go out for a nice dinner at Southbank with the family.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another food-related post

I've been eating out a lot lately (not that I'm complaining).

Last night, I went to Hellenic Republic for my birthday dinner with Nathan, both my sisters, soon-to-be-brother-in-law and one of my sister's friends (who is here from Japan to attend the wedding on Sunday).

Hellenic Republic is owned by George Colombaris (better known to some as the bald judge on Master Chef). I really liked the look of the restaurant which had an open kitchen where diners can watch the chefs busily preparing all the food. The smell of seafood wafting over from the grill was especially inviting, as were the meats being spit roasted in an outdoor courtyard (visible from the dining area through a large window).

We opted for the banquet, which gave us a very good sample of the restaurant's offerings. All the usual things I normally expect to find on a greek menu, were present but the quality was definitely up a few notches from your average greek restaurant. Here, one of the stars was the cheese saganaki with peppered figs. I've had plenty of grilled cheeses but never served with figs before.

As far as birthday dinners go, this was definitely one of the more memorable ones.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Izakaya den

Melbourne seems to be a city full of unexpected surprises. Walk up a stingy set of stairs or down a dark alley and suddenly you come across a funky bar or an amazing restaurant. Izakaya den is one of those kinds of establishments.

Our first attempt to find the restaurant/bar was not a success. We walked along Russell street and wandered straight past it, so subtle was the sign that marked its location (see ambiguous logo below). I used to think that obscure and ambiguous signage would be the antithesis of sound business sense but this doesn't seem to be the case in Melbourne; when we descended down the stairs and walked around the corner, we were greeted with a packed venue.

As we were led to our table, I had a chance to peer over at the open grill and all the delicate morsels that make izakaya dining so much fun (even to a non-drinker like me). This place oozes style, from the plastic chopstick holders to the drinking cups (adorned with kistch cartoon figures and animal motifs).

My companions and I settled for two specials. The first was an amazing spicy tuna rice paper roll (by far my favourite item of the evening). The second was half a grilled head of kingfish (the eye was delicious). Other stuff we tried included some beautifully grilled pork belly and a melt-in-your-mouth eggplant dish. Dessert was a delectable ginger creme brulee.

All in all, I had an amazing dining experience. I'm definitely going back (assuming I can actually find the place again).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The fancy electric car

I had to give a talk yesterday to a bunch of high school kids and took one of the new university vehicles out to the school. It was one of those fancy hybrid electric cars. The vehicle drove well but I was overwhelmed by how different it was from a regular car. There were too many new things to try to figure out, from the button needed to turn on the car to the 'gear stick'. The lack of a key also felt a bit weird. I guess I am conditioned to old technology.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Office clean out

It's always sad when a good colleague retires or quits to go elsewhere. On the plus side, the departure is invariably linked to a big office clean out with plenty of interesting stuff potentially up for grabs. The most recent clean out resulted in the following (rather intriguing) email from the new occupant.

Hi All

There are quite a few items in my new office that have belonged to previous inhabitants.
These include (among other things):

An upright aquarium (about 40x40x50cm)
A large blanket (blue)
Large plastic sleeves (0.6 x 0.9m)
A wardrobe
Protector - insecticide smoke
2 bicycle pedals
Baygon insect killer, Silica gel (500g bottle), Hairspray
4 bottles of Stingose (treatment for stings and bites)
A fridge
Two cast metal lanterns
Many small bottles with either cotton blue (lactophenol) and immersion oil( paraffin oil)
Three pairs of pants (patterns: cow, zebra & shopping bag)
A box of koala skulls
Something that appears to be a dead possum

If you would like to have any of these things, please come by my office.
They will soon be removed permanently.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

That bloody volcano

Mother nature sure can be a pain in the bum. The erruption in Iceland is starting to make me feel a little uneasy. Nate and I are suppose to go to Finland in late May (I'm going for work and Nate is going to be my 'field assistant'). At this rate, neither of us will be going anywhere! I just checked out the Helsinki airport website and the news is not terribly reassuring...You can go there to eat and shop and use the free wifi but don't bother going if you are planning to fly. We were scheduled to fly to Helsinki via Hong Kong. I wonder if Finnair will put us up if we turned up there and they can't get us to Helsinki? Could be a nice holiday.

Coming out to the world

Daniel Kowalski has always been one of my favourite sport stars. Maybe it was about being the underdog through much of his competitive swimming career or the way he comes across on tv (unlike many other sports stars, he seems like a genuinely nice guy). His coming out today doesn't really surprise me. And I hope that others find some inspiration in his story. The lack of self confidence, which he talks about in his interview, is something that a lot of people can probably relate. I do hope that Daniel can see how his achievements are all the more remarkable given that they coincided with a time in his life when he was also struggling to come to grips with who he was. And what a beautiful man he has turned out to be.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Workaholism and being sick

I just realised that I was meant to be off work the entire week having applied for, and was granted, leave for Wednesday-Friday. I completely forgot and came into work anyway. How silly was that?!

And on another note, was looking over the comments on my student evaluations yesterday in preperation for a performance management meeting with my boss and noticed this comment that made me chuckle (I guess i need to get on top of the new lingo):

"Youre a sick lecturer, you make this unit worth doing".

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The footy

Nate is at an AFL game this afternoon. I really don't understand the Melbourne obsession with Aussie rules football. Every weekend (around this time of year), I see scores of footy fans file past my apartment complex on their way to the Stadium.

I went to the footy twice last year, not so much for the game (or even to perve at the players) but, rather, to enjoy the meat pies.

Postscript: Nate just came back...with four jam doughnuts.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The princess

I have a friend/colleague who's a bit of a princess. And she knows it too. Fortunately for her, she's managed to find herself a most amiable prince (and an extremely charming and good-looking one at that) who attends to her every beck and call. People with princess syndrome often expect others to do things for them and are used to getting what they want. But how much of it is their own doing? And is it really their fault? The princess I know is actually a very nice person and I don't think she uses her looks in a deliberately manipulative way. But she does happen to be very attractive and I think beauty, in this case, builds considerable confidence. So even though she is very capable of doing things for herself, my friend isn't afraid to ask people for help and, hence, seems to have no trouble at all finding others to do things for her. Intriguingly, the willing helpers are almost invariably stupid straight men.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I wish...

...I had a pair of binoculars so that I could actually see who it was that was prancing around on the roof of the carpark across the road this morning shooting a music video clip (it look like a slightly chunky man). I guess I'm just going to have to wait to catch it on video hits.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Two memorable events over the easter weekend:

1. I did not eat a single piece of chocolate.
2. Nate and I celebrated our three year anniversary which, in gay years, is equivalent to having been married for 30 years.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Dog sitting

The family is down from Canberra over Easter and are staying at a motel. Since the motel doesn't allow pets, the family dog (a small fluffy thing) has come to live with us. Nate and I have been thinking about getting a dog so this was a good test. Meeko is getting on a bit and needs medicating. I had a hard time feeding him his tablets this evening (even with the aid of a special contraption that was meant to make the task easier). Meeko managed to chew up and spit out the tablet, getting the stuff all over Nathan's jeans. This caused a minor panic since the instructions called for the tablet to be handled with gloves so we thought it might be toxic (a quick hop onto the internet revealed that it is only dangerous to pregnant women). I tried again. And again, Meeko spat the tablet out. At over $10 a pop and with two tablets in the bin, I gave up. Strike 1.