Saturday, December 31, 2011


Just got back from a fishing trip – for work. I'm absolutely exhausted. Apart from the long drive and the intense day of sampling, I also had to process the specimens back at the lab and worked through the night to process them. I got home at 6am. Yep...I did an all-nighter at uni (thought those days were well and truly behind me).

Anyhow, it was 'interesting' working at the field site yesterday, which also happens to be a camp ground next to a big lake. I have been there twice before but the grounds have always been deserted. It was absolutely packed this time, mostly by young people with tattoos and/or facial piercings who are extremely eloquent and use words like 'fuck' and 'cunt' and 'youse'. These same people also have very young children who like to splash around where scientists are trying to collect fish. I was surprised to see that one of these young children (Dakota, age 4ish) can already say Jim Beam (no kidding). Clearly, if a creationist was serious about refuting natural selection, this camp ground (teaming with people who have bred who really shouldn't be passing on their genes) would have provided said creationist with lots of examples (and painted God as having quite a warped sense of humour).

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Home sweet home

Got back late last night from Canberra. After reading about Victor's delays at the airport, I was pleasantly surprised that (1) my Qantas plane left on time and (2) landed in Melbourne 15 minutes early!

Notable highlights of my trip back to Canberra:

1. Seeing family and friends
2. The Treasures exhibition at the National Library of Australia
3. Waking up in the mornings to the sound of chirping birds (I don't mind the screeching trams outside my Melbourne apartment but I much prefer the chirping birds).

Things to do now I am back in Melbourne:

1. Start working on my grant proposal
2. Plan a field trip to collect more fish
3. Begin post-Christmas diet
4. Think about plans for new year's eve (currently, sitting at home in front of air-con is on top of the list).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An afternoon with...

While the siblings hit the boxing day sales, I spent a peaceful afternoon at the NGA with Rothko, Bacon and Hockney (among others).

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Season's greetings

Merry Christmas every body. Be sure to enjoy the turkey/ham/seafood responsibly.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


It seems that Costco has become a new family favourite. I am not a fan. The store just oozes the very worst of America to me. Big warehouse. Big trolleys. Big packaging. Big crowds. Big people. Everything is big, big, big.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Am back in Canberra for Christmas. This afternoon, I went out to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve with some European visitors to show them some kangaroos.

Unexpectedly, it turned out to be quite a nostalgic trip for me and brought up memories of visiting the reserve when I was a kid and being traumatised by the emus (which were extremely bold in stealing food from children). This time 'round, the emus seemed much more subdued and left us alone. The highlight though was seeing a platypus, which was the first one I had ever encountered in the wild.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Swedish Christmas market

Nathan and I met up with my Norwegian friend a couple of weekends ago at the Swedish Church for the annual Swedish Christmas market.

I must admit I thought it was going to be really lame but was pleasantly surprised. There were heaps of stalls selling all things scandinavian and there was even a petting zoo for the kids. If you're a fan of ikea, you're bound to love the Christmas market.

My friend texted me to let us know that she was sitting near the stall selling Norwegian waffles. We walked towards her but were temporarily sidetracked when we saw the swedish shrimp sandwiches (Nathan's favourite) and had to stop to buy a couple of serves (This was followed by a danish hotdog each and then some Norwegian waffles).

During lunch, I asked my Norwegian friend if she could tell, by appearance alone, if a scandinavian was from Norway, Denmark or Sweden. She said she could and proceeded with an example....

"See that woman taking money for the Danish hot dogs? She is a typical looking Dane."

I glance over and see an ugly, obese woman with squinty eyes.

the generic brunette

I am TERRIBLE with recognising people at the best of times but I have come to realise that there is a particular phenotype that get's me muddled more than any other...the average brunette with shoulder length hair. This realisation came in the form of a very embarrassing incident on tropical island no. 2 last week, where I was supervising students on marine biology projects. Ten minutes after meeting with my group, I was in the dining hall and decided to sit next to a bunch of students. We struck up a conversation and I asked one of them what project she was doing. She looked at me with a horrified look and said "I'm in your group"!

Hot, hot, hot

"Very hot", was what I told the waitress when she asked me how I'd like my pork noodle soup. Big mistake. The burn in the mouth wasn't too bad but I could feel the pain in my stomach almost immediately as I slurped down the delicious stock. I tried to temper the heat with an ice cream afterwards (black sesame seed + durian) but it is now just a waiting game to see what happens at the other end...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Back from paradise

Got back from Queensland late last night. It would have been nice to take a day off but, alas, I had a staff meeting.

The weather on Tropical island no.2 was mixed. The boat trip out was quite rough and many of the students suffered terrible motion sickness. I took a tablet and closed my eyes for much of the trip. Since I had the earphones on, I had no idea that people had been vomiting all around me until I opened my eyes 20 minutes before arriving. One of the students was so ill that she had to be carried off the boat.

The trip back to the mainland was a lot calmer. The flight from Brisbane and Melbourne wasn't very comfortable though. Despite getting an exit row seat, I was next to a rather large gentleman and I think we were both cramped for space. I am always worried about getting extra leg room that I overlook the potential drawbacks of being squeezed into a middle seat. The situation was resolved when I decided that I would use his arm as something cushiony that I could lean against.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Paradise (part 2)

Am about to head off to another tropical island, this time for teaching. Two tropical islands in two weeks. More sun. More warmth. More snorkelling. If the current cold start to Summer here in Melbourne is any indication, looks like my trip up north is timely.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Paradise (part 1)

I've been away these past few days, working on a remote sub-tropical island off the coast of NSW. Actually, the formal work part of the trip took all of 30 minutes (an inspection of research facilities followed by a report). The rest of the time was spent hiking around the island and snorkelling. I wouldn't call it a junket was more of a reconnaissance mission to see if I can come up with some clever research projects. The only thing I didn't like about the island was the spiders. There were orb weavers in the forest and huntsmans living in the bed room of the research station. I have no problems with crocs, sharks and snakes but am not a fan of spiders.

Monday, November 21, 2011

pork knuckle, crown princess and glebe

My family came up to Sydney from Canberra yesterday and we met them for lunch at the Lowenbrau at the Rocks. Of course, I ordered the pork knuckle (Schweinshaxn) and it was delicious.

The family drove back after lunch. Nathan decided to do some photography around circular quay, while I headed off to the Botanic Gardens. I noticed barricades at Customs House and a gathering crowd of people carrying Danish flags so I figured that Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary would soon be making an appearance so I scuttled away as quickly as I could. Later on, when I gave Nathan a call to see what he was up to, he told me excitedly that he had seen the royal couple at Customs House. The photos Nathan took were amazing. I was suggesting he should sell them to New Idea or the Woman's Weekly.

We went to Glebe for dinner last night at a Lebanese restaurant. I hadn't been to Glebe before and was impressed by the diversity of restaurants. Must definitely go back in future.

We are heading back to Melbourne this arvo. The holiday was way too short.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Nathan and I are in Sydney for a break. The main purpose for our visit is to attend a friend's house warming party on Saturday night. It's a themed party...Hawaii. I'm not a big fan of dress up parties. I thought about buying a Hawaiian shirt but couldn't justify paying for something that I would never wear again (I've done that before). I thought about making something clever out of cardboard and going as either a pineapple or tropical fish but I'm not that clever and, frankly, couldn't be bothered doing craft in the hotel room. So today, I bought a pair of pyjama shorts with a Hawaiian print. I'm not sure I've thought this through properly (i.e. wearing pyjamas to a party). Nevertheless, I bought them because I figure I can always wear them over summer.

Nathan and I actually arrived in Sydney yesterday. We saw the new Picasso exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW. Although I was really keen to see the exhibition, I'm not one who spends hours inside an exhibition. We were in and out in 20 minutes. I thought it was excellent though.

Today we headed off to the fish market and gorged on tuna, salmon and kingfish sashimi, followed by some grilled blue eye, salt and pepper king prawns, and half a dozen oysters. I would have eaten more but Nathan insisted that I had eaten enough and dragged me off to the new Adriano Zumbo store at Star. We also visited the top of the sydney tower. I'm not sure if I've ever been up there before (might have done so as a child). The view was amazing.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A sunday outing

I made a new friend on the train two weeks ago. I started chatting to her after noticing her marimekko handbag (yes, very gay). I actually thought she might have been Finnish but it turns out she's Norwegian and is here in Melbourne for six months doing graduate research. We hit it off right's nice to have a regular train buddy again.

We made plans to catch up for lunch today. I took her out to Victoria Street for yum cha. She said she was an adventurous eater so I ordered tripe and chicken feet (nathan's favourite), as well as the usual assortment of (innocuous) steamed dumplings. I think she enjoyed it all, even the chicken feet.

Afterwards, we took the tram down to Chapel Street for a hot beverage, followed by a visit to the Chapel Street Bazaar. Nathan ended up buying two old box cameras (he is really getting into all things photography at the moment).

I was tempted by the skull of a male black casqued hornbill. Here is a similar example from the net:

I'm not not sure what I'd do with a hornbill skull (or where I would keep it) but isn't it cool? My new Norwegian friend thought so (she is a biologist too). Nathan thought it was macabre; he doesn't like the idea of dead animals lying around the home so that was that. Oh well.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Weddings galore

Nathan and I are attending an unprecedented number of weddings this Spring. We have already gone to two weddings in two weeks and have another two to go. The next one is this afternoon.

I was a bit surprised that someone would choose a Friday for tying the knot. From the guests' perspective, it is certainly more of a hassle to have to take the day off. Initially I thought it was a decision based on cost but then I found out today that a lot of couples are getting married because of this.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gay stereotypes

My straight friend, P, is working on his next novel. It centres on two gay characters, one of whom shares the same name as me. But that's where the similarities end.

P is really serious about doing research for his novel to make sure that the characters and story line are believable. He has been interviewing older gay men and seems to be familiar now with terms that make me blush.

Still, every now and then, he would send me an email to ask me about things, expecting me to provide the answers. And most of the times I cannot.

Recently, he asked me a question about beats and the signals that men use with each other. Somehow he thinks all gay men would know the answer to such things. "How the hell would I know?" was my response. But still, the questions keep coming.

The most recent text from P asked me to suggest a password gay guys might use. I though for a moment and, thinking back to a complete innocuous post by High Riser, I replied 'snow plough'.

sore and sleepless

I went on a field trip yesterday to collect fish for an experiment. I must be getting old. After a day of fieldwork, I was an absolute wreck....tired and sore all over. I feel like I have been battered by a baseball bat. It never use to be this way.

And to think that I was actually planning to go to the gym yesterday after the field trip. Common sense prevailed and I told my gym buddy that I would have to cancel. It felt like I already had a substantial work out wading through the water, scooping up fish and carting water-filled eskies back and forth.

I ended up going to bed super early and then woke up super early (3.30am). Oh well, might as well catch up on blogging. I've decided to take it easy today and mark exams.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fat in Frankston

Nathan's dad was admitted to Frankston hospital a couple of weeks ago. He seems to be making a good recovery.

I had not spent much time in Frankston before but recent visits have been a bit of an eye opener. People there seem to be quite a bit less healthy that those living in the inner city. There were a lot of overweight people around.

The food was terrible. We ate at the food court of the shopping centre twice. Both times, the food was really salty. Yesterday, we went to a charcoal chicken place and the food there was heavily laden with salt as well (almost to the point of being inedible).

As I sat there chewing on my chicken, I was wondering if there are higher incidences of heart disease, blood pressure etc in that part of the city?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

All the pretty ones pashing on the dance floor

Took my Canberra visitor to the Greyhound last night. I wanted to show him the transformation.

He was shocked. He made similar observations to the ones I made after my first visit to the venue after refurbishment.

It looks amazing but has lost some of the soul. The people on the dance floor were less diverse (far more attractive looking but less nice somehow). There was only one drag queen performing last night – and she was most definitely an after thought, playing second fiddle to the beautiful girls and hunky guys who did most of the miming and dancing around (the shows were short too).

Anyhow, I don't want to sound like I am complaining because I still had a great night. And I am not blind to commercial realities either. Reinvention is often necessary for survival. Perhaps I am just getting old and sentimental.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Yummy dumplings

Went out for dinner last night at the Hu tong Dumpling Bar. I've heard people ranting and raving about this place for quite some time now (from food critic Matt Preston to the guy I see everyday on the train). This restaurant's reputation is well deserved....the 'xiao long bao' were absolutely amazing (the best I've ever tasted).

I had a very nice catch up with my former PhD student and his co-supervisors. It was funny leaving the restaurant though. All four of us are extremely tall and I heard one waiter make a comment about our heights to another (in mandarin). And as we were leaving, I noticed a lot of the customers staring at us. I must say it is refreshing to be surrounded by people that are the same height...I feel less freakish that way.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The visitor

I have someone staying with me this week. He is in Melbourne working with me on an experiment. It has been an eye-opening experience. He doesn't seem terribly motivated and appears to be more concerned about having lunch than doing the experiments (even though it is his experiment). Sigh.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The mould, the mould

The builder came. He is what I would describe as a typical 'wog' (and I mean that in the nicest possible way). Shaved head, athletic build, tight designer shirt and jeans, nicely perfumed, and wearing lots of heavy gold jewellery. He prized off the skirting board and I was amazed to see the assortment of fungi growing on the wood. My damp problems is a mycologist's dream. "Definitely a damp problem", said the builder. He cleaned out the mess and said he's going to get back to me in a couple of days.

Kitchen issues

My apartment was built in 2005 and I moved in very soon after it was completed. Almost immediately, I started noticing a funky damp smell. I told the builders when they came in to fix up the apartment defects but they assured me it was just the dishwasher (which I have never used).

Since that time, the skirting near the sink has been deteriorating. The paint bubbled and the wood is expanding and then mould started to grow. Things came to a head last year when an overseas friend came to stay. I found him the next morning sleeping on the balcony. Apparently he had suffered an adverse reaction to the mould and spent the rest of his time in Melbourne staying with other people. I felt terrible.

Anyhow, I told our onsite manager earlier this year. He inspected the damage and suggested that there was definitely a leak under the kitchen bench somewhere. He said he would contact the builder.

Six months passed and then, last night, the builder gives me a call. He will check it out this morning. I hope he can identify and fix the problem.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The xenophobic homophobe (part 2)

In a city of 4 million, what are the chances of crossing paths with the same bigot in just over a month? 'Pretty good' it seems.The woman who was making racist and homophobic remarks at Nathan and I at Prahran station a few weeks ago hopped onto my train this afternoon at Flinders Street. I recognised her two jack russells. So it seems that she is just generally a crotchety person. As she walked through the carriage, she made nasty comments at several commuters.

Why do I bother?

Students nowadays seem to have very selective hearing. Maybe they have gone deaf from listening to their iPods all day.


Student # 1 (before the start of the lecture yesterday): "Are these lectures examinable?"

Me: "Yes".

Me (to the rest of the class): "Just a reminder, as I have said before, these lectures are examinable".

Student #2 (at the end of the lecture): "Is this lecture examinable?"

Me: "Yes".

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The car accident

A car literally flipped onto its side and screeched to a halt right in front of me on my way to the train station this morning.

I immediately ran up to the vehicle. The airbags had been deployed, the front windscreen was smashed, and the driver was trapped because because the driver's side of the vehicle was laying against the road. Someone opened the front passenger door (now facing the sky) to ask the passenger if she (I think it was a woman) was ok.

I noticed a crumpled bike lying on the road a few meters behind the car. I didn't see a bike rider so hopefully it wasn't a collision and that the rider wasn't squashed under the car.

A man asked if someone could go find a fire extinguisher (just in case) so I ran to a nearby cafe and got one. I placed it next to the car.

By now, several people were on the phone to triple 0 and a sizeable crowd had gathered. I had a lecture to deliver, so I continued on my way to the station.

What a way to start the morning.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Legitimate excuses?

A barrage of emails have appeared in my inbox over the last few days. There was an assignment due last week and students are contacting me with all kinds of reasons why they shouldn't be penalised for not handing in their work on time.

I received a couple of emails with the stock-standard excuses.... illness or bereavement due to the unfortunate passing of beloved family members (grandparents seem to have a nasty habit of dying at this time of year).

But this year, I've also had a few new excuses I have not encountered before. These include:

(1) being dumped by a boyfriend/girlfriend (x 1)
(2) death of family pet (x 1)
(3) "I handed in the wrong version of my assignment" excuse (x 2)

Evidently, I'm a bit of a softy when it comes to giving students the benefit of the doubt but I'm starting to get a bit suspicious.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Separation anxiety

My book is almost ready and I am having separation issues. The publisher has set up a site for my coeditor and I to upload the chapters and I am procrastinating. I should just do it. In truth, I think it will be a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It's been a three year long process from inception of idea, to writing the proposal, to getting scientists to contribute chapters, and finally putting the whole mammoth thing together. I don't think I'll do another one for a while. It was a lot of work. Ok, better get to it...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mystery lithograph

Nathan and I bought this lithograph last week. We have no idea who the artist might be or whether it is even Australian. The work bears the letters EA on the bottom left corner and a signature – but we can't make out the letters. This is going to be a difficult one to resolve.

Early paintings from the western desert

The recently opened exhibition of early aboriginal paintings at NGV Australia is a must see.

The exhibition showcases 200 or so of the earliest works produced from the western desert. These early paintings are significant for giving rise to the western desert art movement. The works themselves (most of which were painted on board) are absolutely breathtaking.

There is a great sense of power and spirituality in these paintings that set them apart from the more commercial works in the decades to follow. Intriguingly, several of the works were held in a special room separated from the rest and came with a sign warning that they may not be suitable for general viewing due to cultural sensitivities.

I know I am biased (given my interest in aboriginal art) but this is really something special. Click here for a video about the exhibition.

Blogger catch up

A definite highlight of my day off yesterday was catching with fellow bloggers Victor and Evol Kween for lunch.

Victor and I had previously discussed meeting up for pho in Sydney but seeing as he was in town, we decided to go for pho here instead.

I had a restaurant in mind but as is typical with my bad sense of direction, it not where I had thought it was. Fortunately EK had a better sense of direction, knew exactly which restaurant I was trying to find, and got us there.

I must say that it was terrific to finally catch up and meet people whose blogs I had been following for years. Importantly, they were both super nice and the conversation flowed was like catching up with old friends.

Sadly, EK had to get back to work, but Victor and I ended up extending our catch up a bit longer over scones at the NGV. We said goodbye 4 hours later.

Am already looking forward to the next outing...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Misspelt obscenity

Was on the train today and noticed someone had scrawled "Fuck big coke" on the seat next to me. An accompanying picture of a penis suggested that 'coke' was meant to be 'cock'.

I really worry about the state of literacy in this country when young people can't even spell obscenities correctly.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weird dreams

I have been taking Fridays off. It seems that having a three day weekend is bad for my dreams. For the last few weeks, I have been having nightmares on the Monday morning (is it a sign that I don't actually want to go into work?). The other week, I dreamt I was being chased by dinosaurs. This morning, I had a dream I was stuck on scaffolding very high up from the ground and had to jump to the main building – but was too scared to do so. I'm not sure what happened to the pleasant flying dreams I used to have... other than the fact I don't seem to have them anymore ;-(

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The xenophobic homophobe

Nathan and I were waiting for the train at (of all places) Prahran when we were subjected to a racist homophobic rant from a woman with two jack russells. She wasn't technically ranting at us but having a loud conversation with her dogs about us. I've been subjected to the occasional racist jibe from time to time (in Queensland and Western Australia) but never been at the receiving end of any overt homophobic remarks. I don't think I am particularly camp (if at all) and neither Nathan nor I 'flaunt' our sexuality (not that any of that should matter). The filth that came out of her mouth made me blush (though, technically, calling us cock suckers is probably a bit hypocritical).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Is he or isn't he

I was watching the late news earlier this week about a helicopter rescue in Queensland. A crew member on the rescue helicopter was interviewed and I recognised his name as someone I had gone to school with. For a moment, I was sure it was him but now I am not so sure. I have terrible facial recognition. I guess it's been quite a while since I finished high school and people change in appearance. Anyhow, I looked the guy up and there is a photo of him but I still can't tell.

My lunch party

In an effort to be more social and to foster team bonding, I decided to host a lunch at my place yesterday for all of my grad students. I didn't plan it very well. I ambitiously agreed to go to two work meetings in the morning and got back to the apartment 30 minutes before the arrival of the guests (I forgot to factor in the travel time...oops).

I literally ran into the apartment, had a pee, and began frantically cooking (yes, I washed my hands).

There were several dishes going at once...microwave was on full blast, fried rice was being tossed around in a wok, chicken wings were roasting in the oven. It was chaos. And then the guests arrived. Shit! I managed to chat, cook and show them around the apartment. Thank God for an open plan apartment ("this is the apartment, here is your drink, go on a self-guided tour").

The lunch actually went very well. Too much food; though I've learnt that students can eat...a lot. Nathan got back from the country and helped wash all the dishes that were piled in the sink.

There was one bizarre interaction though...mid way through my lunch party, someone (whom I can only presume was a neighbour on my floor but can't be sure because people are always moving in and out of the complex) came to the door to ask for a pair of pliers. I said I didn't have pliers. He then wanted to see my tool box (raised eye brow) because he needed something to dismantle a bed. I lent him my spanner. He said he'll bring it right back. I haven't seen him or my spanner since.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Stuff white people like

A recent post from Andrew over at High Riser got me thinking and I decided to come up with a list of 'chinese' things that many of my white friends like but I (and many chinese people) find perplexing (in no particular order)...

1. Kylie Kwong.
2. The dim sim at the South Melbourne market.
3. The Flower Drum.

And to be fair, many of my white friends find a lot of chinese things rather perplexing too. As I recently learnt at yum cha, the consumption of chicken feet probably rates very highly on that list.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Weird coincidences

So after nearly bumping into an actor from Winners and Losers the other day, I just received an email telling us that Channel seven is going to be filming a scene for the show at my work this week (right outside my office window in fact). Luckily I will be out of the office that day so I won't be tempted to stare out my window all morning watching the filming.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Celebrity watch

One of the things about living in a big city is that you occasionally see celebrities wandering about town. For the most part, the ones I have spotted have mostly been D-listers (former game show hosts, reality tv contestants). That was until yesterday when I nearly ran into an actor going into a yum cha restaurant. I tried to be discrete and refrained from gawping. Nathan was behind me talking to our friend, Pales, who is a big Winners and Losers fan. They were too engrossed in their conversation and didn't realise what had just happened.

Me: Did you see who we just walked past?
Pales: Who?
Me: The pretty girl from Winners and Losers.
Nathan: Really?
Pales: No way, I have my phone. Let's go. I want to take a picture.
Me: No...we are not going to stalk her now. Do you know how hard it is to get a table here?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The hot Chilean

Ok, so I have to say something about the very attractive Chilean man who was also at dinner last night. Oh. My. God.

The moment he walked into the restaurant, I turned to my friend and the following quick word were exchanged...

Me: "He is very attractive."
She: "I know. Unfortunately, he is gay. My friends thought you were single and were trying to get him to sit next to you but I told her you already had a partner."
Me: "What a pity, I was thinking more for you".
She: "Yeah...the cute ones are always gay dammit".

We both spent the evening trying not to stare. The guy oozes sex appeal. What is it about South Americans? Sexy. Warm. Charismatic. Actually, I have yet to meet an ugly Chilean (Does such a person even exist?). Luckily the food was very spicy so my friend and I could blame our flushed faces on the sichaun pepper and chilli oil.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sichuan with Mexicans

I just came back from a wonderful evening with a bunch of Latin Americans, many of whom I had never met before. I was my friend's 'plus one' for the evening and the dinner was, to my surprise, at a Sichuan restaurant in the city. Sichuan is a province in China famous for being home to the iconic giant panda. For those unfamiliar with Sichuan cuisine, it is renown for being intensely spicy. All the dishes came either smothered in chilli flakes or swimming in chilli oil. Despite my chinese heritage, I felt completely out of my depth. Fortunately, my new friends knew the restaurant well and selected some amazingly fiery and delicious dishes. What a surreal night...unfamiliar chinese food with (mostly) Mexicans. What an amazing country we live in.

Black vs white

I did something very unusual the other evening. I actually went out...on a week night!

I went to see an aboriginal activist talk about black sovereignty. What a depressing talk that ended up being. The man was just so angry (and, unfortunately, I think he will be angry for the rest of his life). He sees himself as a victim. He spoke about genocide and oppression by white people and white people's laws (I felt so profoundly sorry for all the white people sitting in the audience).

I later spoke to one of my gallery friends who has spent decades working directly with senior indigenous artist and she tells me that the aboriginal elders she got to know were such joyful, gracious people that were intent on moving forward (despite being directly touched by the protectionist and assimilation laws that saw their displacement from traditional lands and the creation of the stolen generations). In those people, she never saw or felt any resentment whatsoever.

So...the contrast...the bitter urban activist and the joyful desert-dwelling elders.

The $5.2 million Madonna

Went to see this on Thursday:

Evidently, according to newspaper reports, the purchase price of $5.2 million was a real bargain. I then spent the rest of my time gawping at a very attractive art teacher who was chaperoning a group of students through the early european paintings.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

National costume wtf?

Sadly, this is NOT a costume for next year's mardi gras. Nope. This is actually the outfit that is suppose to represent our national costume for the Miss Universe pagent. Isn't it hideous (the dress, not the girl)?
The bra looks like it has been constructed from several yellow jockstraps and the dress seems to be made from a bunch of over-stetched used condoms/balloons/granny undies.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London burning

Hmmm...all this civil unrest in London reminds me of William Golding's classic book The Lord of the Flies. It's amazing how easily things can degenerate.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The bearded lady

I was at an art exhibition opening recently. One of the artists, an elderly aboriginal woman, had a beard (well, a goatee). She was completely un-selfconscious about it, which was great for her. And the admirers of her paintings certainly didn't care either.

Later, I was talking to a gallery friend of mine. I made the observation that a lot of elderly aboriginal women I've met seem to have facial hair. My friend – a caucasian girl – assured me that elderly caucasian women get facial hair too. As someone of Asian descent, this was a complete revelation to me (even though, as a biologist, I should know better).

"Really?", I asked.

"Yeah", she said. "That's what I'll be looking forward to when I get older. I'm going to start saving up money well before then to get laser treatment."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Go Wendi...

Important lesson: Never mess with a guy who is married to a chinese woman.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A night out

One of my friends just came back to Oz after a month back in Central America visiting friends an family. I decided to take her to the Greyhound Hotel. It was the first time I had been there this year and I had not seen the completed renovations. Both Nathan and I were gobsmacked. The venue looked amazing. I must say though that I do miss the somewhat shabby, run down GH of had character. friend was having a good time on the dance floor until she had a slight altercation with a guy. You know the kind...they dance as if they owned the dance floor and are inconsiderate of other people's space. The guy in question stepped on my friend a couple of times and kept jabbing her in the back so she politely pointed this out to him. He said something offensive. My friend (God bless her little Mexican heart), said something back (about the size of his arse from what I was later told). He then danced right up against her, rubbing his crotch against her and then punched her (lightly) in the arm. The security guard then intervened and escorted the guy away....and we resumed our dancing. My friend had earlier been lamenting about the lack of straight guys at the club. I told her later that at least she got some crotch action regardless.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Currently reading...

I bought myself a novel during the week. It is a classic, The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was first published in 1912 and I had never read it.

But the real reason why I bought it was for the cover. It's a 3D cover that even comes with its own 3D glasses. How cool is that?

Life games

Ever get the sense that you're in a real-life video game sometimes? It happened to me yesterday.

My mission was to get from South Yarra back to my apartment (I may or may not have bought yet another painting).

The first 'level' I had to successfully negotiate was to walk from the gallery to the South Yarra train station. I had to battle strong winds and pedestrians, then fumble through my wallet for my met ticket in order to get past the stupid barrier at the station entrance.

After completing the first stage, I then had to survive the train trip itself. Here, I first had to dodge an old indian woman who tried to use my painting to steady herself as she was making her way through the carriage. I then had to get out of my seat to prevent the three snotty little toddlers who sat opposite me from putting their grimy little toddler fingers on my painting. Whilst standing, I had to watch out for the man with the extra wide pram (yes, the painting IS worth more than both your pram - and probably your kids too), the two teenagers and their bikes, and the woman who launched herself into the carriage at the last minute by prising open the door when the tram was moving. I survived all those obstacles.

The journey from the train station to the apartment was a breeze by comparison. More wind (including unpredictable cross winds over Collins Street), construction work, and the elevator (the painting suffered a slight knock but nothing too serious), and then inside the apartment where the treasure was carefully freed from the bubble wrap with my magical sword (i.e. a steak knife).

Mission complete.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Awkward conversations I've had with white people

I decided to share some awkward race-related conversations I've had with people after reading this post from fellow blogger, High Riser.

Awkward Conversation # 1 (during a hospital visit):

Nurse (looking at me and my shaved head): "Are you a monk?"
Me: ", I'm catholic".

Awkward conversation # 2 (at friend's engagement party):

My friend's future father-in-law (a South African): "Look , it's not the black people's fault that they are not as intelligent as us. They just haven't had the same opportunities. I don't have an problems with black people....but I just wouldn't want my daughter to marry one" [good thing my friend is a red-head then].

Awkward conversation # 3 (in North Queensland asking farmer's permission to carry out research on their property)"

Farmer 1 (asking me): "So can you eat these fish?"
Farmer2 (answering on my behalf): "The japanese will eat anything" [thanks love but I'm not Japanese].

Awkward conversation # 4 (at the gym talking to the friend of a friend when I was still at Uni)"

Friend of a friend: "So...Are you flying back home for the semester break?"
Me: (looking perplexed)
Friend of a friend: "You're an international student right?" [WRONG]

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My wedding and other secrets

I saw three movies on the plane back from Finland. The only one of note is a film from New Zealand called 'My wedding and other secrets'. It's a story about a chinese kiwi girl who falls in love with a white kiwi guy. I very rarely cry during movies but I did watching this one....the cross cultural references really struck a chord, and I think the movie captured superbly what it's like to be chinese growing up in western society. The guy who plays the boyfriend is also very cute.

Pain in the back

I've hurt my back on only a few occasions. The first time was when I was lifting a 20 litre bucket of aquarium water without bending my legs (stupid...I know). The second time was when I was having a coughing fit whilst brushing my teeth (wtf?). Yesterday I hurt my back again...when I stood up to get off the train in the morning on my way to work. I'm not quite sure how the heck I managed to do my back in from simply standing up, but boy is it sore today. I had to cancel my meetings and work from home instead.

Last night, I made Nathan do the cooking and the washing. He had to fetch me ice cream and rub dencorub in my back. This morning he set up my home office and bought my medication to bed. He is much better at nursing me than I am of nursing him. Nathan gets sciatic pain all the time so I asked him how he manages his back pain. His reply was short and simple... he says "I suck it up".

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Back in Melbourne

There were no flight cancellations, not by Cathay Pacific at least. A typhoon had just brushed past Hong Kong so there were delays in and out of the airport. My Finnair flight into HK was delayed and the landing was a bit rougher than usual but fortunately my flight from HK to Melbourne left on time.

I got in early Friday morning. It was interesting to hear the pilot mention over the PA system that there are sometimes laser attacks at this time of the morning. I find it hard to believe that someone would get a kick out of pointing laser beams at airplanes.

It was nice to be home. After a quick nap, Nathan and I went to see the new Living Waters exhibition at the NGV. The exhibition comprised a collection of indigenous art from the western desert gifted to the gallery by the Felton bequest as part of the 150 year celebrations.

After a nice afternoon tea at the nearby NGV international afterwards, I had to go home for another nap (probably not such a great idea for getting over the jet lag). I woke up at noon today. I seem to be sleeping a lot this time. Hopefully I can shake off this jet lag by Monday.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The ash cloud

I'm due to fly back to Melbourne tomorrow via Hong Kong.

Although I've had a fun and productive time, I can't wait to get back home after five weeks here in Europe.

Still, I've been closely monitoring the ash cloud over Australia and reckon it wouldn't be too bad to be 'stuck' in Hong Kong for a couple of days....I can go shopping and eat roast goose.

Alas, Cathay Pacific seems very unlikely to cancel any flights...while all the Aussie carriers have been grounding their planes, Cathay has been flying to and from Oz with out any sign of disruption.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

An observation

Stephen Nicholls, the property editor for the Sydney Morning Herald, is very handsome. That's all.


The dining experiences here in Helsinki seem to be getting better and better.

Last night I caught up with my friend Hanna for dinner at a fancy restaurant called Muru. It's one of those restaurants that has to be booked weeks in advance (Hanna made the reservations six weeks ago). After dining there, I could see why...the food was sensational.

We started with an entree of snow crab and crayfish on brioche, ate our way through a dover sole for mains, sampled some cheese in the third course, and finished off with a dessert that looked something like this (but with rhubarb instead of raspberries).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Best meal in Finland

Fried Baltic herrings on mashed potato at Salve, an old sailor's pub in Helsinki.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sauna open air metal festival

I had my first taste of heavy metal concert last night at the Sauna open air metal festival. As is typically Finnish, we had to walk through a pine forest to get to the venue.

When we finally got there (it was a 40 min walk), I was greeted by a sight reminiscent of the time I went to the Laird Hotel in Melbourne...the place was full of shirtless, muscular, hairy men dressed in leather or army pants.

I tried not to gawp (too much).

I made my way pass the eye candy and headed to the main stage, where I got to see Queensryche and Accept perform their sets. Then it was off to look for some dinner.

I ended up with a plate of potatoes with sausages, onions, cheese and hunks of pork. It is suppose to be quite traditional: i.e. what Finns traditionally do with their left overs from the night before.

After gorging on the high carb, high fat meal, I made my way back to the main stage for the headline act, Judas Priest. Wow. What a show. There were flashing lights, various outfit changes, lots of smoke and flames, and even a motorbike. The audience went absolutely crazy (the only time I have seen Finns show any sign of emotion; Finns have such a poker face).

The people around me started to play air guitar (it's moments like this that I wish I had learnt a musical instrument). Towards the end of the set, the guy behind me started to do that head banging thing, whipping his long hair back and forth in a move that would make Willow Smith proud. A word of advice: do not stand too close in front of a guy with long hair doing head banging motions - I got myself a nasty bit of hair whippin!

Six hours after first walking into the venue, it was all over (Finland has very strict city noise laws). Getting out of the venue was like a pride march...I found myself shuffling out with all the half naked muscle men and the bears into the bright Finnish night.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Currently in the city of Tampere visiting with my friend's parents. My friend also bought me a ticket to the Sauna open air metal concert (yes folks, I traded Kylie in Melbourne for heavy metal in Finland).

Tampere is a beautiful city to the north of Helsinki, about 1 hour and 40 minutes by train.

Before we left for Tampere, we made a stop at the Hakaneimi markets in Helsinki to buy some fish to bring to my friend's parents. A bit of music trivia...the Hakaneimi metro station was made famous in a videoclip by the Bonfunk MCs (for the song Freestyler in the 90s). Here is a still from the clip. You can see the orange door of the station:

This is what the Hakaneimi markets look like above ground:

The fish section:

I bought a whitefish and an arctic charr. When we arrived at Tampere, my friend's dad popped both of the fish into his hot smoker. Twenty minutes later, we were tucking into a amazing fish dinner overlooking one of the big lakes that borders the city.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The endless, perpetual light

The lengthy days here in Finland are causing me to go to bed late and to wake up very early (earlier than usual). At this time of year, it doesn't get completely dark even at midnight.

When it's finally time for bed, I've tried closing the blinds and shutting all the curtains but both are quite ineffective at completely blocking out the light (for some reason, Finns don't have very heavy curtains covering their windows). Fortunately, I'm still able to fall asleep (I think 5 years living in the middle of a large city means I've grown quite accustomed to sleeping in brightly-lit environments.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Finnish food

The five basic food groups.

1. Fish

There is a huge fish-eating culture here. Although the cured herring makes me gag, I'm rather partial to hot smoked salmon and have been eating it almost every other day.

2. Berries

A favourite past time of Finns (young and old) is to go berry-picking in the forest during the summer. Wild strawberries and blueberries are my favourite.

3. Dairy

Finns sure love their dairy products. Everyone here seems to have a glass of milk with their main meal. Even better than regular milk is something the finns call piima...sour milk.

4. Rye

White bread is hard to find here in Finland. Rye is the default.

4. Salmiakki

Salty licorice (ammonium chloride). The same stuff comes spewing out of volcanos and gets left behind when you burn coal.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Finland Summer

1. long days
2. birds singing
3. everything is flowering
4. wildlife

1. perpetual light
2. nightingales singing in the middle of the night
3. hay fever
4. mosquitos

Friday, June 3, 2011

Slow worm

I just went for a walk and saw one of these (a lizard that looks like a snake that is known as a 'slow worm').

The Finnish sauna

Finns really love saunas.

The friend I was staying with in Turku has a private sauna in his actual apartment (even though the apartment itself is tiny). His parents are even more obscene: they have one sauna inside the house and another outside, in a separate building in the backyard!

Finns are proud to declare that the word 'sauna' itself is Finnish (pronunciation sounds something like 'sou-na'). Finns believe that saunas are very good for you. When I first arrived in Finland, I was told that women use to give birth in the sauna and that the sterile conditions meant there were less birth complications. People also like to drink beers and cook sausages at the sauna (though I soon realised that the grilling of sausages takes place OUTSIDE the sauna itself, on a nearby is bad etiquette to grill sausages inside the sauna proper).

There is no such thing as modesty when it comes to a sauna session in go naked. Here, is a chance to see all of your family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours naked.

"It's not a sexual thing", a Finn once told me.

"Yes", I replied "but it's more a nakedness thing."

(As an aside, I've once had to tell a Finn to avoid her local sauna back in Australia because it was being used as a sexual thing.)

But back to the Finnish sauna...for added pleasure, you can beat yourself with birch branches. Pine branches, though, are a definite 'no, no'. Alternatively, go to a public sauna to be washed by old, angry-looking finnish women (the kind that look like female hammer-throwers at the Olympics).

Alas, as much as I enjoy the sauna (It really does make one's skin feel smooth and subtle), it also gives me heart palpitations so I try not to do it too frequently.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I'm currently working at a research station near the city of Hanko, which is situated by the shores of the Baltic Sea in southern Finland. Here, the birch and pine trees grow right down to the water's edge. It's really beautiful. All that fresh air and wonder people from the nordic countries are consistently some of the happiest on earth.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Miso mackerel

I've had some amazing food here in Finland.

Today, we went to a japanese restaurant for lunch. It reminded me of some of the small home-style restaurants I visited when I was in Japan. It was compact, the owner did the cooking, and there was a TV in the main dining area showing weird japanese programs.

I ordered the special of the day, which comprised a piece of mackerel braised in a miso-flavoured sauce. The mackerel was accompanied by rice and a number of interesting side dishes, including fern shoots. I've never had fern shoots before (apart from asparagus).

I started chatting with the owner of the restaurant who told me that she picked the shoots herself from a nearby forest. Apparently they are popular food item in Japan and have a very short harvesting season so I was quite fortunate to have tasted them. Admittedly, they had more of an interesting texture (crunchy) than a taste but I'm glad I got to try them.

The woman was originally from Tokyo and settled in Finland thirteen years ago. She has two sons (and a bunch of grand children) still in Japan. She tells me she has visited Australia once before (she has a friend living in Brisbane) but has never been to Melbourne.

Wood peckers and fire trucks

I took the morning off today and went with my friend/colleague to a nearby island (there seem to be many in Finland) for a walk through the woods. Saw some rabbits, a hare and a red fox on the way to the island...they look much less like vermin in their native habitat.

Whilst walking through the forest, I saw and heard a couple of wood peckers. I got very excited by those (in much the same way that my colleague/friend got excited when he saw cockatoos for the first time in Australia).

We ended up walking about 10km through birch, maple and pine forest, and decided to catch the bus back home. When we got back, we noticed six fire trucks across from my friend's apartment. The old building across the road had caught fire sometime in the morning when we were out. Most of the roof was gone. It looks like several units might have been affected. I wonder if it was a sauna incident gone wrong.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I'm in Turku this week spending some time with a friend/colleague who works at one of the universities here. Turku was the former capital of Finland before the city went up in flames during a big fire in the 1800s (a sauna accident?). It is a beautiful city. So far, I've been working mostly with my lap top set up in one of the many cafes that line the river bank. It's nice to be out of the office.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Howdy from Helsinki

Arrived two days ago. I think I brought the Melbourne weather with me. It was cold, wet and windy on the first two days. Beautifully sunny today though.

Man, I love Helsinki. Such a stylish city. There are changes happening here though...and it is palpable.

My friend/work colleague was telling me that nationalistic sentiment is growing and that people are becoming more and more xenophobic. I suggest it's because Finland is essentially a mono-culture and with an increase in migration (and tourism from asia), the people here are being exposed to non-caucasians in large numbers for the very first time. It might take a generation for things to improve but, in the meantime, I hope it doesn't get too bad.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

To do list

1. water plants
2. look for european adapter
3. pack bags
4. transfer files from old laptop to new laptop
5. remember passport
6. bring medication
7. Give Nathan metcard

Monday, May 16, 2011


Off to Europe tomorrow for five weeks. So long Melbourne weather. Hello European summer...Mwahhhh....

Oh, hang on, it's going to be 13 degrees and raining in Helsinki on Wednesday. Crap.

The shop assistant

Was talking to a sales assistant the other day who was trying to make conversation. She should have stuck to something simple like the weather (You can't easily say something offensive if you talk about the rain or the cold).

Nope, this stupid woman decides to talk about asian people. I guess her thought processes must have gone something like this..."I am serving asian customers so I will talk to them about asian things."

She begins by telling us about how her son whom she suspects is secretly wanting to be asian. And in an effort to show us that she is completely cool about her son turning his back on his continental european heritage, she tells us that she hopes he will mary a nice asian lady so they can have asian babies.

She then tells us about her holiday in Thailand and how she loves Thai food. Like I really give a rats arse...I'm not even Thai.

And just when you'd think she couldn't get any more offensive, she asked Nathan if he was our tour guide.

"No" I should have said, "he is our immigration detention officer. We are on excursion from Villawood".

What I said instead was "No, he is my partner" to which the woman replied "Good on you." We made a quick exit before she had the opportunity to begin talking to us about gay things.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

the revenge

Hell has no fury than a woman scorned. My friend's flatmate went on a date with a guy she met on an internet dating site. The guy seemed genuine. He was handsome. His profile said that he was looking for a relationship rather than a one night stand. The usual story.

The first date goes well. They ended up shagging on the second. The day after, the guy cancels plans for the weekend, saying that his rugby mate from Queensland was in town. Meanwhile, my friend's flatmate finds the guy's facebook page. His personal details reveal that he is "in a relationship". She confronts him about it. He confesses.

Half an hour later, my friend's flatmate makes contact with the guy's girlfriend via facebook and they end up having a very good conversation. She fills the girlfriend in on the goings on of her sleazy boyfriend.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The week that was...

Wow. What a week. I think I had the best easter break...eva!

By best, I mean a relaxing break, visiting with friends and eating lots of yummy food like chocolate rabbits and chocolate eggs.

I've also discovered that my bathroom scales are broken because, quite simply, I could not have gained two kilos over a weekend.

I had an extra day off on birthday. I'm now 35 (otherwise known as, 'five years until I am 40'). To celebrate, I went to the dentist to have my 6 month check up and get my teeth cleaned.

Met up with Nathan for dinner at my favourite chinese restaurant and ordered way too much food. At the end of the meal, my conversation with the waitress went something like this (translated from cantonese):

Me: I am really full.
Waitress: Of course you are.

I think she was implying that Nathan and I were pigs for ordering the double boiled chicken soup with wontons, a whole fried baby chicken (it was so cute), AND the braised pork knuckle.

The week of excessive feast continued into last night. Instead of staying home and watching the Royal wedding (Nathan was so terribly disappointed he missed out), we met up with some friends for dinner at a lebanese place in Carlton, where we ordered the impressive banquet, and I was able to demonstrate my infamous chicken wing trick (chicken wing goes into mouth; 14 seconds later, bones come fingers or dining utensils necessary).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sunday lunch

Mmm...lamb shanks.


I have very fond memories of passing through the seaside city of Warrnambool as a child. It was in the top three of my favourite coastal towns/cities (the other two being Albany in WA and Bicheno in Tassie).

Last Thursday, I took the day off and dragged Nathan on a train trip to re-experience the city. Warrnambool is still a very nice place, but somehow not as quaint as I had remembered it. I guess it's a sign of getting old and sentimental when the memory of a place is better than the actual place itself.


A few weeks ago, Nate, my friend Pt and I went to see the NGV's Man Style exhibition, where I learnt a few useful tips.

Style tip one: wear clothes that accentuate your best assets.

Style tip two: You can never over-accessorize.

Style tip 3: Flares are so last century.

Style tip 4: tie = understated elegance.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

On the bus

Getting a seat on the crowded bus after work (especially on a friday) is one of those rare treats. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to claim the last remaining seat on the bus. The problem was the little old lady sitting on the isle seat who refused to move her crinkly little arse so that others might be able to get through.

I asked her politely if I could sit down, expecting her to shuffle along. Instead, she moved her legs half-heartedly motioning me to get past. And so I did. But before I could actually sit down, she pushed me into the seat.

Grumpy old lady: "How tall are you?".
Me: "Six foot four."
GOL: "Ah."
Me (trying to make conversation): "These seats are awfully narrow".
GOL: "Yes, well. Especially for people like you. You're obviously not a dancer."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The easter rush

Tried to book in to see the dentist for a routine check up. Seems like they are fully booked until after Easter. Made me wonder if people are preparing their teeth for the onslaught of easter chocolates.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Toilet stop

I had, um...make a toilet stop on my way to work yesterday. I got off the train at Flinders Street station and headed straight across the road to Federation Square and the Ian Potter Centre. It was a little bit of a detour but there was no way in hell I'd go to the Flinders Street station toilets – no matter how urgent the call of nature.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Honesty is the best policy

I do wish people were upfront with how they feel. It can avoid all sorts of angst later on. Case in seems I might have annoyed one of my research collaborators inadvertently by putting in some photos into a manuscript we had been working on. When I told her my plans. She replied back with the comment that she 'thinks' only line drawings were permitted. I took that as her uncertainty about the rules rather than her way of telling me that she (a) did not want them in the MS and (b) that she was 100% certain that photos were not permitted. Now she tells me that she is feeling awkward and I've had to send a very apologetic email to placate the situation. Sigh.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Culture Sunday

Nathan and I went to the footy on Sunday. My friend Phil reckons I am turning into a Melburnian. I told him I was going for the meat pie. Sure, it's just a regular four-and-twenty pie but it has somehow become a tradition for me. AFL game = excuse for pie with sauce. Nathan had two jam doughnuts (he is more the sweet tooth).

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Why are we monogamous? Some evolutionary psychologists believe that humans are, by our very nature, promiscuous animals. According to such claims, the size of our testes and the length of our penises, are believed to be adaptive in sperm competition (the phenomenon that arises whenever the sperm of different males compete to fertilise the female's eggs). Our penises, for example, are the largest of the great apes, both in absolute terms and relative to body size (the poor gorilla, at 3cm, has the smallest).

The topic of monogamy came up during brunch yesterday with friends (at the appropriately named "Cheeky Monkey" Cafe). We were discussing extra-marital affairs (biologists would call these 'extra-pair copulations' or EPCs for short) and whether or not it is acceptable (and under what circumstances it would be so).

One of our female friends was the victim of a cheating husband. According to her husband, it had only happened once and he was so wrought with guilt that he confessed everything to his wife. After some marriage counselling, all now seems to be well. In the case of our friend, the husband actually engaged in an EPC with another man. Our friend is certainly not alone.

I once met an elderly gay man who told me about his 'closeted' past as a married man with a wife and two kids. I guess he was half out the closet for most of his marriage. His wife knew about his indiscretions (with other men) and the kids only found out when he eventually left his family for one of his lovers.

Of course, both of my examples involve men being unfaithful to their wives with other men but even without the homosexual element, it DOES seems to be common for males to be the ones seeking the EPCs. That's not to say that women are more inclined to mate monogamously but let's keep the focus on men because I wonder if this is the reason why gay men are often so promiscuous even when they are in a stable relationship. I was telling my friends at brunch about this gay couple I knew who were married and in an open relationship. Why go through the trouble of marriage if one is to engage in sanctioned EPCs? Before getting to the answer, our conversation had already moved onto another topic (whether it is OK for friends to kiss each other on the lips).

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I was at an art gallery this afternoon checking out an exhibition. The gallery owner has a two year old kid who was running around like a child possessed. I don't know what the etiquette is about telling off other people's children for misbehaving but figured it probably wouldn't be a good idea, given how much the gallery owner was praising her child. So...when the kid started to pull apart one of the sculptures in the gallery, I pretended not to notice. The gallery owner eventually saw what was happening and ran over to pick up the child (who was proudly displaying the torn off fragments to his mum). There was no smack. No scolding. She simply took the child to her office. Meanwhile, the gallery manager rushes over to the sculpture and lets out a gasp (the kind of gasp that only a gay man can pull off...very theatrical). He quickly picks up the fragments and discreetly brings them back to his desk (no doubt to try to glue back later...after all, the sculpture had already been sold – for quite princely sum too).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Life and death on the net

My old school sends out newsletters to its alumni three times a year. The school has been posting them to my parents' place in Canberra. Mum has been saving them for me. It mostly contains information about graduates and their lives since leaving school.

In the latest issue, I found out that a guy from my class had passed away earlier in the year. We were never friends but it was still a shock. I immediately thought back to the first time I met him. It was the fifth grade. He and his family had arrived from Darwin. The teacher assigned him to the desk next to mine. After we graduated high school, I never saw him again. I still occasionally would bump into his mum at the local shops. I can't remember how I know her to be his mum but she was always very nice to me. I immediately thought of her and how she must be feeling.

The newsletter was extremely vague about his death. At around 34/35 years of age, I wondered how he died. Was it illness? An accident? Suicide? I decided to do a google search. And much to my surprise, I found some information.

First, I come across a tribute written by someone on their blog. The blog posting describes a much-loved, loyal young man who had many friends. It spoke about a guy who was witty and funny, and had no qualms about stripping down to his underwear in public when drunk.

Next, I see a youtube tribute showing a series of photographs...images taken on holiday in exotic with mates at the of street art (he was a graffiti artist?). The person who made the tribute chose Michael Jackson's "Gone too Soon" and Robbie Williams' "Angels" as the accompanying sound track. I wonder about the choice of music. Would someone who enjoys spray painting public buildings enjoy listening to Robbie Williams?

Lastly, I read an online news article about an Australian who was found dead in his hotel room overseas. Staff at the hotel had seen the guest returning very late the previous night looking highly intoxicated. He was discovered in his room the next day - with blood coming out of his nose. The police say that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

So...over the course of a 20 minute search on the internet, I had found out more about this guy than in the eight years I had spent at school with him...his life and his death played out on the internet for all to see.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Canberra weekend

I'm in Canberra this weekend for dad's birthday. The trees are starting to get their autumn colours. Canberra definitely puts on a much better Autumn show compared to inner city Melbourne.

We went for yum cha at a chinese restaurant located on the top floor of a greek club. Only in multicultural Australia.

My youngest sis and I then went to the National Gallery to check out an exhibition of artifacts from the Solomon Islands. There were some nice pieces on display, like the stone figure above. Others were a tad creepy (e.g. decorated skull).

I'm glad not to be in Melbourne this year while the car racing is taking place. I can usually hear the noise from my apartment all the way in the Docklands.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Getting the english right

Can we please make more of an effort to check our placards for grammatical errors next time?
First of all, if Julia really is Bob Brown's bitch, then we need to mark the fact with a possesive apostrophe.
Second, what is it with the use of American english people? Are we not protesting outside the AUSTRALIAN parliament? Use Australian english, please.
"My MOM is cold" ?
"Stick the tax up your ASS"?

Too close for comfort

I was a portly child growing up in Canberra. Not as portly as this kid but still the story was a bit too close for comfort.