Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mistaken identity

For a split second, I thought this was a photo of George Calombaris from Masterchef looking resplendent in army gear and holding a machine gun. But 'no', on reading the caption accompanying the news article, it turned out to be a photo of a Syrian army defector.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Yet another wedding

I headed up to Sydney for the second wedding up there this month. This time it was my cousin's....an Asian wedding.

There are a lot of rituals attached to a big chinese wedding, like the tea ceremony, which involves the bride and groom kneeling in front of senior family members offering them tea in return for red packets and jewellery. And like all chinese weddings, there was drama...in this case, the maid of honour unfortunately fell over during the post wedding photo shoot somewhere at the Botanical Gardens, necessitating a trip to the Emergency room.

The wedding reception was in Bankstown. It was like a scene out of Ang Lee's film, the wedding banquet (though, in this case, the groom is straight). The banquet dishes featured the body parts of endangered species (e.g. sharkfin soup); the fathers of the bride and groom got way too drunk; there were people falling over on the dance floor (is it appropriate to play kung fu fighting at a chinese banquet?); and one of my cousin's threw up on himself on the bus ride home.

Of all the weddings I have been to in the last three months (and boy were there many), this was by far the craziest. I had a great time though!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Australia Day

I thought I'd do something different this year and go to a citizenship ceremony. I wish I could say the ceremony was fantastic and that it was filled with emotion but it was actually quite boring. Sorry. Is that being un-Australian? The whole thing went way too long, the speeches (by the politicians) were self-serving, and the audience talked through the whole thing. We left before the ceremony concluded.

In celebration of Australia's multiculturalism, however, I ended up going to an Indian restaurant and gorged on butter chicken.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Island photo

Last month I published a post about my experiences on a tropical island. Here is a picture of me near the end of a seriously intense walking trail just after clearing the tree line. [Note to self: next time wear a more appropriate shirt for hiking].

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Last night, a slightly sunburnt Nathan (he spent the whole day at the tennis), my Norwegian friend and I had the most delectable and unexpected dinner. What started off as a late afternoon catch up over drinks ended up with us devouring one of these (slow roasted lamb shoulder)...

...with a side of this...


Pity the poor inspector

Yesterday, I found myself feeling sorry for the undercover ticket inspector on the 96 tram. She could have booked a whole bunch of people but missed out on the opportunity.

An elderly woman at one of the tram stops was wanting to get to the museum with her three grandkids but wasn't sure if she was on the right tram. The inspector, who had not revealed her identity at that stage, helped the old lady on board.

A few moments later, the inspector asked to see everyones tickets. The old woman feigned ignorance – in the way that only elderly people can do and still get away with it ("How much does it cost?", "Can I buy the tickets from you?").

The inspector fell for it and instead of booking the woman, tried to be helpful and pointed the old lady towards the coin machine.

The inspector then proceeded to ask the next set of passengers nearby for their ticket. Having witnessed what had gone on moments earlier, they, too, feigned ignorance ("Oh, we're from Adelaide? How do we buy tickets?").

And having set a precedent, the inspector had no option but to offer the interstate fare invaders the same opportunities to redeem themselves though you could see, by now, the inspector was getting frustrated..."what is going on today?", I heard her muttering under her breath.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Masculine beauty

Scientists have spent a lot of time thinking about what makes a man attractive. This is what we know about what women like (in no particular order):

1. symmetrical faces

2. masculine faces - high fore brow ridge and strong jaw line (but only during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle)

3. v-shaped trunk

4. no trunk hair

5. a deep voice

6. height (tall is sexy)

7. large penis

I think it would be interesting to see if the same features that make men attractive to straight women are similar to what gay men would find attractive. I suspect there would be considerable overlap (maybe with the exception of trunk hair??).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Melbourne vs Canberra

I've had a string of visitors visiting me over the past two months. When it comes to overseas guests, I always feel very strongly about giving them a positive impression of the city where I grew up (Canberra) and the city I now call home (Melbourne). I guess it's because I'm emotionally attached to both cities. However, I've noticed that it is a lot easier to convince people about the virtues of Melbourne than it is of Canberra. Why do people dislike Canberra so? I've heard people describe it as sterile. What does that mean though?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Getting a life

Over the Christmas break (Christmas eve to be exact), I received an email from the copy-editor of my new book. She had a list of editorial corrections she wanted addressed. I decided to hold off from passing on the email to the other authors until AFTER the new year.

Today I got an email reminder saying that she needs it by next week. I politely emailed her back reminding her that it was CHRISTMAS and that many people were on leave.

The copy editor's email got me thinking about work expectations. Most people think that university lecturers have a cushy job. I often get asked whether I have holidays when the students have holidays. The answer is 'no'. Teaching is only a small part of my job and I spend quite a bit of my time doing research (and a bunch of admin stuff too).

A few years ago, I came across this short article published in arguably the most prestigious journal in the field. It cleverly highlights a growing problem and the need for a better work-life balance among scientists.

Friday, January 6, 2012


The never-ending barrage of weddings continues for me. Nathan and I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Sydney to attend a wedding last night here. The groom is a surgeon and we were seated at a table with a couple of doctors (among others).

Somehow the topic of greco-roman wrestling came up. One of the doctors, a very nice Canadian guy, started telling us about his days on the school wrestling team and his deflating experiences of wearing tight-fitting outfits and being tossed into the air in front of the girl he was trying to impress.

It turned out that the other doctor at our table, a Finn, had also been a wrestler. We thought the Finn's experiences would be very similar to that of the Canadian. We were wrong. The Finn actually competed at World Championships and represented Finland at two Olympic Games! The contrast in skill and achievement made us all laugh.

Postscript: I just found a youtube video of the doctor in action. OMG.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

An awkward conversation

A friend and I were chatting to a woman at a party recently. The woman, noticing my friend's sari, asked her where she was from. I thought it was a reasonable question but my friend was shocked by the question. Eventually, after a period of silence, she told the woman that she was Australian. Trying to smooth out the awkwardness, I added "she's from Western Australia."

mushroom misgivings

Over the Christmas break in Canberra, I was walking through the pine forests near my parents' house and noticed heaps of mushrooms sprouting everywhere along the walking trail. Having been an avid harvester of edible mushrooms in Europe when I was living there, the thought did cross my mind as to whether these local forest mushies were edible or not (especially as I have seen european ladies harvesting mushrooms in the same forest many years ago). After reading this, I'm glad I left those mushrooms alone.

Monday, January 2, 2012

How I kept my cool





I think Nathan is transitioning into a bear. He already has a hairy chest, beer gut, and man boobs. Then, two days ago, he started to grow a goatee. Yes, a g.o.a.t.e.e.

There once was a time when I was persistently pestering Nate to grow facial hair because I was curious how he would look.

Some men look good with facial hair (see example below).

Nathan doesn't. And given that some of the hairs he has sprouted are actually ginger (GINGER!), I am trying desperately to convince him to shave it off.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Anal leakage?

So I was half-preparing NYE dinner/half watching the news when a story came on about closure of beaches in Port Phillip because (to quote the news reporter) "sewage had leaked out of a man hole". Nice.