Sunday, February 28, 2016

Brunswick Street art opening

Nathan and I went to a friend's art exhibition opening the other night. It's our friend's first exhibition and he was very excited. There were several other artists exhibiting in the one venue (each in a different room) so the place was packed with people. The different exhibitions varied in quality, as did the quality of the rooms in which the art were exhibited. Our friend ended up in a room with black walls (which he didn't know about until he went to hang his works). He wasn't too sure about the wall colour but I think it showed off his paintings superbly.

I had time to wander around to check out the other artists' works. There was some stuff I really liked and there were some things that weren't really to my taste. Overall, there weren't a lot of red stickers next to the works, suggesting that there wasn't a lot of buying going on.  I guess opening nights are mostly for the benefit of friends and supporters of the artist (and random people walking in off the street for the wine and the cheese).

I heard later that our friend sold several of his paintings in the days after the opening. Haven't spoken to him yet but I know he (and his wife) would be thrilled.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Weird tram call

Someone from Yarra trams left a weird message on my office phone the other day. He claimed to be following up on an incident in January in which I had complained about a tram driver on Swanston Street and needed some further details from me. I rang him back and told him it wasn't me. "I'm very happy with the trams and tram drivers. Thanks", I said.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Truffs is sending me a message

I think the dog is trying to say..."Get off the couch you lazy bastard and take me for a walk".

Great outdoors

Oh boy, I've been so bad with my blogging of late. I have an excuse though (well, several)...Blogger has stopped working properly on my version of Safari, I am technologically incompetent, and I'm not a big fan of Google Chrome (the only remaining option when I want to blog). Oh...I've also been away.

Last week, I was with a new cohort of undergrad students participating in the leadership program I developed for the faculty. We went back to the same place as last year. This time there was a lot less apprehension about partaking in the activities that freaked me out last year, like white water rafting and abseiling. In fact, my hear barely skipped a beat this time (and I have arrhythmia) when I went over the cliff for the abseiling.

I wanted to take a selfie when I was midway down but didn't think it was appropriate. So, instead, I waited until I got down to the bottom and tried to stage a photo whilst leaning back against a rock. Unfortunately, a student 'photo bombed' my shot and gave away the ruse.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy year of the monkey. Speaking of monkeys, here is my Emperor tamarin.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Pet fish

This is my pet saratoga (Scleropages jardinii). I've had him (her?) for over 18 years and he was already a subadult when I bought him. Jandamarra (that's his name) lives with my folks in Canberra in a tank all on his own.

He's a very aggressive fish. I've tried keeping him with other fish in the past without much luck. He earlier bit my finger when I was cleaning the tank. Nothing serious but you can see the scrape marks left by his teeth. I don't think he meant to do it...just mitook my finger for food.

A couple of years ago I had to fly back to Canberra because his previous tank had sprung a leak and I had to transfer him to the current aquarium. It's smaller than his old tank but it's big enough for one.

Chinese New Year's Eve

The feasting has begun. Dad made these beautiful buns to have with braised pork belly.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Ian Stokes

I'm back in Canberra for Chinese New Year.

I was chatting to my mum and she mentioned, out of the blue, that the window cleaner guy at Dickson had passed away.

"Oh no", I said. "I know the guy. His name is Ian."

I first met Ian back in the late 1990s when I was a volunteer at the Welfare Rights and Legal Centre (WRLC) in Canberra. I was then a Science/Law student studying at the ANU. On a Tuesday night, the WRLC would offer free legal advice for anyone who needed assistance. Law students would see the clients first to take down the facts and then talk to the lawyers in a back room to discuss solutions/options. We would then meet the clients together and the student would then have the opportunity to listen to the lawyers giving the advice to the clients. It was a great learning opportunity for me. And for an idealistic uni student, my time working at the night time legal advice service of the WRLC was immensely rewarding – and the only time I came close to making use of my law training before I embarked on my career as a scientist.

I have few memories of the many dozens of clients I helped. In fact, I can only remember two specific cases. I remember the old lady who came to see us because she had broken her glasses when she tripped and fell in a darkened cinema. And I remember Ian.

I won't go into the details of why Ian had come in to seek legal advice that night. It doesn't really matter. I'm not even sure why, of all the people I met during my time volunteering at the WRLC (i.e. the wonderful lawyers, fellow students and clients), Ian's is the only name I remember. Ian Stokes.

Months later, whilst waiting in my car at an intersection in Dickson, I recognised Ian as he went about his business cleaning people's car windows. He didn't recognise me.

And so it was, Ian was a regular at that intersection in Dickson, long after I had graduated from uni and moved away from Canberra.

Late last year, I was visiting my friend Pete. He and his wife just had a baby. Leaving their place, I happen to drive up to the intersection and Ian was there. He looked very different from the person I remembered. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it would be the last time I'd see him.

I did a search of The Canberra Times. It was nice to see that Ian was a much loved member of the Canberra community with several articles written about his passing. I wonder what he'd be thinking if he knew of the positive impact he had on so many people in the community and how much he'll be missed.


Friday, February 5, 2016


A couple of days ago I was standing at Flinders Street waiting for my train. I couldn't help but notice a couple sitting nearby. The man was very good looking. The woman was not. He was well groomed and was wearing nice clothes. She was dishevelled and wearing an unflattering track suit. They were physically mismatched.

Was she a beauty when they first met and has since let herself go? Or maybe, it was the other way around?

Just as I was starting to wonder about their back story, the train pulled up to the platform and I realised that perhaps I'm just being shallow.