Saturday, October 31, 2015

Indulgent Saturday

Nathan and I went for yum cha today at Shanghai Dynasty. As usual, I was greedy and ordered far too many dishes, which I then felt compelled to finish (because I have a thing about not wasting food).

After lunch, we waddled down to Collins Street, where I had an appointment at a Gallery to see a picture I was interested in buying.

The gallery was suppose to have been open at noon but, when we arrived at 12.30pm, it was still closed. I left feeling disappointed. About an hour later, I got an email from the gallerist saying she had been running late. Since Nathan and I were still in the city, we decided to waddle back to the gallery where I ended up making the decision to buy the picture. I think it's Diana. Nathan absolutely hates it and reckon her monarchist grandmother would have a heart attack if she saw it.

Afterwards, we decided to drop into Koko Black nearby for a drink. I was still too stuffed from lunch but Nathan always seems to have room for sweets so he, at least, was able to satisfy his indulgence for chocolates (I decided that if I wasn't so stuffed I would have ordered the chocolate truffle with the salted caramel filling).

We came back home afterwards and I ended up having a nap. It ended up being a perfect Saturday (although I'm still too full so won't be having dinner tonight).

Racial frustrations

I received an email from a student who was querying about the mark they had received for an assignment. This, of itself, is nothing unusual. A small minority of students are always upset about the marks they receive and, as the unit coordinator, students will often email me about their grievances. And it's my job to support them and help them to identify the things they did well and the areas that need attention.

But...this was the first time a student has put forward the contention that a low mark might have been due to him having a non-Anglo name (the basis of his complaint against the person who marked his particular report). I was shocked by the accusation.

In reality, marks are carefully awarded against a clearly stated set of marking criteria. The student's name shouldn't matter – and it doesn't, not in my classes.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Anxious wait

It's that time of year again for researchers across Australia when we find out whether or not the research proposals we submitted to the Australian Research Council will get funded.

I've decided to take the day off from work. It's too stressful to be in the office.

Instead, I've planned to go for a nice lunch and just try to enjoy the day...regardless of the outcome. Fingers crossed though.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tram works

At 3.30am on Saturday, I woke up to the sound of construction work.

At first, I thought it was coming from the new building going up next door but when I looked out the window, I realised that the construction workers were gathered around the tram tracks nearby. That made sense. No one else would get permission to carry out construction work during the middle of the night.

In the 10 years I've lived in my apartment, I think there has been two previous tram works – both of which were carried out day and night over the course of a weekend so that everything could be completed before the start of the working week.

Nathan and I had to go to a wedding in Geelong on Saturday night and I slept like a log when we got home so I was oblivious to the noise. Strangely, there was no construction work during daylight today (Sunday) but they have commenced again as evening approached. Terrific. I think I'm going to need ear plugs tonight.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Aussie rules

I was taking the dog for a walk yesterday afternoon. As I rounded the corner of a building and headed towards a small park, I could hear quite a bit of laughter. When I got closer, I was surprised to see a bunch of chinese people kicking around a football and having a great time. It was a nice counter to the news story I read about this mob and their attempts to exert their right to 'bare arms'.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I got to meet a radio star

When I was a kid, the ABC showed an amazing documentary series called The Nature of Australia. Watching that series was a real turning point for me as a young nature lover and definitely contributed to my decision to pursue biology as a career. The series was narrated by Robyn Williams. He was superb.

Fast forward to last Tuesday. I was waiting in the foyer of the ABC studio in Southbank with several other colleagues waiting to do pre-recorded interviews with Robyn for his radio programme. It was really exciting.

I was up first. Before the interview, I got a chance to tell him how much I had loved that series and the influence it had on me....I was more than a little star struck.

Friday, October 16, 2015


I decided to leave work early today. It's been a very busy week.

I spent the afternoon at the National Gallery of Victoria checking out an exhibition on Australian surrealism. The artworks were, indeed, surreal.
 Elsewhere in the Gallery, I came across this psychedelic room....
...and this wall of mirrors.
 I liked this orange koala with perfect yellow teeth. It made me smile.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


I've decided to add some flowers to my leafy arrangement form a few weeks ago (the leaves have lasted remarkably well). These are Dendrobium orchids.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The built environment

My workplace has been investing a lot of money into improving the built environment in recent years.

Many of my colleagues would rather see the money invested into research, but I think a physically stimulating work environment is important too.

We've had lots of work done to refresh our tired old buildings and to build new ones. The university has also been carrying out major landscaping to open up the external spaces.

However, one of the most exciting parts of the plan to improve physical spaces has to be our art program, which has seen some really interesting pieces being installed in our corridors.

The program has not been without controversy. Some of the works, such as those by this Melbourne-based artist, have garnered a lot of angry emails. Some people (Monarchists?) even find them offensive.
I've realised that many scientists don't get the contemporary pieces now adorning our walls. The works are not meant to be pretty or necessarily even relate to science (though I do find many of them  to be interesting and/or beautiful). Rather, they are suppose to stimulate discussion and to foster engagement – and they are certainly doing that!  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A good end to a sore week

After hobbling around in pain all week due to a leg injury (sustained from fieldwork last week), it was wonderful to catch up with some friends visiting from Perth.

The friends are always lamenting the lack of decent restaurants in Perth so we decided to go to yum cha in the city.

The restaurant we went to had two options for diners, who can either choose to pay for the number of dishes they select or to make a prior commitment towards an all-you-can-eat fixed price option before starting to eat. We opted for the latter, which resulted in this rather awkward sign being plonked at our table for all the other diners to see.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sunday flowers

Technically, these are leaves but they make for a nice arrangement all the same.


I've spent the past few days in Gippsland doing fieldwork.

There were lots of people around because of the long weekend, which meant a lot of PR work to explain the research we were carrying out – and to accommodate the many kids (quite a few of whom were called Brodie) who wanted to 'help' hold our fish.

We had to lug buckets of water back and forth to set up our experiments on the fish. It was intense, back-breaking work and I am feeling my age today (sore all over), but it was also heaps of fun.

I seem to eat a great deal of junk food on field trips...this bee sting bun was a bit too much though (especially after consuming two meat pies).