Sunday, May 5, 2019

Social media

I've been neglecting the blog. Too much going on with work and life. A few fellow bloggers and I have been connecting and following each other on other social media platforms, where I've been far more active. For the few regular bloggers/readers still checking in, feel free to send me an email and we can link up that way.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Bidding frenzy

Mirka Moira, a much-loved Melbourne icon, passed away last year.

Today, the contents of her studio is being auctioned off. The prices for her works are going through the roof.

Take the example of this soft sculpture.

With an estimate of $3000-5000, it ended up selling for $62250.

As they say, at an auction, you only need two people who really want something to drive the price up. When the hammer finally came down, the entire room broke out in applause.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Port Fairy

Nathan and I went to a wedding in Port Fairy a few weeks ago.

Port Fairy is a nice town but their tap water tastes strange.

I did some research when I got back. Apparently the quality of the drinking water there is a long standing issue. The bad taste and funny smell is because it is bore water.

I've had bore water elsewhere (e.g. in Central Australia) but I don't recall the weird smell and taste.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Incessant noise

The building next door has been driving me insane.

Car park exhaust fans installed at a similar level to my unit has been coming on very early in the morning and the noise is terrible.

I wrote to the Environment Protection Authority, and was told it's outside their jurisdiction. I was directed to contact the local council, and was asked to fill out a log documenting the extent and nature of the noise for two weeks to see if the noise constituted a public nuisance.

I judiciously filled out the log. A few days after I submitted it, I got a reply saying that the council can't do anything because noise of this nature is normal for the city between 6am to 11pm.

I politely pointed out that the noise was now coming on at 5am, which prompted another round of email exchanges (including a request for me to send them some photos). That was over a week ago. I haven't heard back since.

The joys of city living.

Monday, January 28, 2019

The worm in the soy sauce

People have an unfair aversion to worms. Sure, some are parasites and we should be concerned but many are relatively the one I found on my plate while enjoying a buffet dinner at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

I think the worm, which was still very much alive and trashing about in a pool of soy sauce, had hitchhiked on some freshly shucked oysters.  I'm not sure what species it was but I could tell it was a polychaete (a group of marine worms), based on the bristles (see above example from the web).

I told my hosts and they were absolutely mortified. I tried to assure them that it was fine and I'll just flick it aside but they insisted on calling over the waiter who promptly took my plate away (along with the oysters and sashimi, which I was still very happy to eat).

A very worried manager then emerged. My hosts were explaining to the manager how gross it was to see a live worm and that they were embarrassed because I had come all the way from Australia. The manager was apologetic and offered me a drink on the house. I told him it was not a big deal and that the offer of the drink, whilst very kind, was unnecessary. In hindsight, I should have just kept my mouth shut – like the time I found a parasitic isopod in the gill of my grilled flounder at a seafood restaurant in Melbourne.


Nathan and I had a fantastic time in Singapore.

A highlight of the trip (or any trip, for that matter) was sampling the local cuisine.

We went to a few fancy places, including a fantastic buffet at the fancy Marina Bay Sands and chilli mud crab from the famous Jumbo Seafood restaurant.
However, some of the best dishes we ate were from the many hawker centres (food courts) around the island, where we ate everything from kway chap (stewed pork belly and pig intestines with rice noodles) to a Michelin awarded Hokkien mee (stir fried noodles). Typically, the Hawker Centre food prices ranged from $3-$5 so the meals were super cheap too.

Of course, I also went for durian. I finally got to sample the so called Musang King, which is a very popular durian variety in south-east Asia. For me, though, it was bit too bitter and I actually prefer the less expensive, sweeter varieties that are available in Australia.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Summer break

I've been on leave since before Christmas and I think this is the most relaxed I've been since starting my job in 2006.

Quite a few stars have been aligned to get to this point. First, I don't have to apply for a research grant this year. The grants are typically due in February and, hence, January tends to be a busy time for academics.

Second, I have accumulated too much annual leave so I need to take it or lose it.

Third, I got promoted to full Professor so I figured I deserved to treat myself to a break.

Nathan and I are off to Singapore today for a week. Should be fun.