A year in the life 2016 #336: current reading

…Anna Karenina. It is taking a while. There are some fascinating and interesting parts to the book – and i love recalling my Russian history and find some of the discussions of political theory fascinating, but boy is it long. And with wotk as frantic as it is, it is taking a long time to get through.

A year in the life 2016 #151: finished!


After many weeks I finally finished this monster of a book…and trilogy. It was enjoyable but loooong – ultimately I am not sure that it was good enough to justify the time it takes to read all three. An example of where so strenuous editing could have lead to vast improvements.

2015 weeks! #42: constant motion

2015-10-29 08.46.52Managed to get some walking to school in – this time with Zac.

2015-10-29 15.17.59A busy day of running about all over town. Had a half hour between things so managed to do work while refreshmenting.

2015-10-29 18.53.22This is what my hair looks like when I have put my bike helmet on and off about four times during the day.

2015-10-29 19.46.28Dinner at the Elk & Pea. Jude took the opportunity to go and chat with the chef to compare notes on the almond sauce that goes with the jerk chicken. Jude made his own version while I was in Manila, and the sauce wasn’t quite right, so he needed to compare ingredients and approach.

2015-10-30 15.29.13It is full spring at the moment. Flowers everywhere.

Friday night cricket with Jude. And my laptop briefly to finish a few work things. And a lovely sunset.

2015-10-31 12.16.34

Saturday it was Turner fete and Zacky singing in the Trebles. I think maybe the performance was a bit high concept for a fete, but lovely singing at any rate.

2015-10-31 19.47.03George selfie time.

2015-11-01 16.11.45After a few weeks of trying to line up a time, Zac got to skype with Sienna his best friend who has moved to Jakarta. Small children are weird to watch talk to each other.

2015-11-01 19.25.15Flew to Adelaide Sunday night. But not actually back to the 1970s.

2015-11-01 19.55.09The beach at night – I was staying with Natasha so saw the last of the sunset.

2015-11-01 22.28.47On the flight over I finished this. Strange and thoughtful. I thought the lead character was a bit of an idiot at times, but then I think you are supposed to.

2015 weeks! #37: successes and food

2015-09-21 08.20.29 - CopyIt is Monday morning – that must mean walking to school with Jude!

2015-09-21 17.55.17 - CopyEvening falls.

2015-09-21 17.59.50 - CopyAnd I can’t resist a good cloud photo.

Out for dinner Monday night – we had visitors from the Philippines and Vietnam on our big capacity building project, so it was official dinner and welcome time.

2015-09-22 08.45.07 - CopyTuesday morning and walking to school with Zac.

2015-09-22 18.06.58 - CopyTuesday night was the junior hockey presentation for Sebastian and Jude. The end of another successful hockey year.

2015-09-22 20.40.09 - CopySebastian also did well in computational thinking – only 30 or 40 kids in Australia scored higher on the test.

2015-09-23 13.13.47 - CopyIced chocolate season is upon us.

2015-09-24 13.28.27 - CopyLovely lunch with Mathew to which he brought me a bottle of one of my most favourite gins, recently procured on a trip to Kangaroo Island…

2015-09-24 15.21.39 - CopyA good hair day.

2015-09-24 16.37.14 - CopyWe got back to our main D&D adventure (and chocolate) after some break.

2015-09-24 22.40.35 - Copy

Time for further blonding at the hairdresser.

2015-09-25 17.07.09 - CopyAnd a quick Friday afternoon beer with James.

2015-09-25 18.06.42 - CopyThe boys had to do a 27 laps in 5 minutes test to allow them to play full contact in an upcoming tournament – Sebastian got 28+ first go, Jude 26. Jude came back on Sunday and managed 27 which is super impressive.

Sebastian got his braces and expander put on during the week. He had been somewhat (understandably) grumpy since then. But by Friday he was feeling good enough to give creme brulees and his new torch a whirl. They were very good, though his custard needs to be slightly firmer in parts.

Zac did some more jewellery making on the weekend. He really does enjoy it. Meanwhile, the rest of the household was off playing Magic.

2015-09-26 12.09.43Some yarn bombing in Civic.

2015-09-26 13.01.07We met up with the rest of the family + others for post-Magic lunch.

2015-09-26 13.36.03It was then getting ready for my next overseas trip – checking through the foreign currency tin.

2015-09-26 18.33.46We tried out the new book shop-restaurant, Muse with friends Saturday night. I think the bookshop part was slightly better than the restaurant, but my short rib and blackbean sausage roll was pretty tasty. I also bought a few books…

Sunday morning I said goodbye to the blossoms..

2015-09-27 06.17.48

..it was off to Manila.

Manila is so full of people.  A walk to the shopping mall also revealed a bunch of people all excited about some pop act we had no idea who they were.2015-09-27 19.45.10But the view from the rooftop restaurant was lovely.

2015-09-27 20.08.47

2015 weeks! #27: China, Korea then collapse in exhaustion

2015-07-13 20.52.02After all day in flight and transit, here we were in Beijing. Everyone wanted to go out and explore, so we found ourselves wandering the hot hot streets of Beijing at night.

We decided against trying the scorpions – I wasn’t letting anyone eat street food on the first day of a busy four day trip. Also some of those scorpions were still wiggling.

We did find a little place where we tried locals foods from the menu that included such delights as “fuel consumption of lettuce” and “glutinous frog” and “roumo acid cowpea” – whatever that is.

2015-07-13 21.18.12 The next morning it was up early and into the official program, starting with meeting the Chinese Vice Minister for International Education Cooperation and then the Minister opened the forum we had organised with the Chinese Ministry of Education (note my translation headphones for Chinese speakers).

During the night, in the dark, at 5am, I had completely misjudged where the edge of my bed was and fell while getting up hitting my head on the wall. In the morning it was clear I was developing an excellent bruise.

2015-07-14 10.31.49After opening the conference we were off to meet the Vice Minister for Vocational Training at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. Somehow after I mentioned jewellery making we got to the point where Minister Birmingham invited Vice Minister Tang to visit Coober Pedy (hope i can go on this hypothetical visit too – I’ve been interested in visiting Coober Pedy since reading The Fire in the Stone).

2015-07-14 11.35.23From there, it was lunch in the car en route to Huawei.

2015-07-14 11.52.47I loved the visit to Huawei. Such exciting technology and ideas. The whole Internet of Things – billions of internet connections for things, not people. The idea your pot plant might be able to tell you how much water it needs (finally a way that I might be able to keep a pot plant alive) and a fridge that orders food itself. The telepresence we did with students in Shenzen was also super cool. I completely geeked out over the whole thing,

2015-07-14 12.45.15

I really liked their smart watches too.

2015-07-14 13.32.02Afternoon tea there stepped away from the technology into old fashioned elegance.

2015-07-14 13.36.01Because some meetings were rearranged, we had about one free hour, so we went and climbed to the top of the only hill in Beijing in 39 degree heat and looked at the Forbidden City. The Minister offered to take my photo for me but I had to explain I had a whole selfie aesthetic going on.

2015-07-14 15.23.59

2015-07-14 15.21.19Back to the hotel for a quick change and off to the evening function with people from the Forum and alumni and other relevant folk at Capital M.

The location was just off Tienanmen Square so there were some good views from the balcony.

2015-07-14 18.14.24After the official function was over and despite the fact that the Minister had to be at a media interview at 5am and the rest of us had a luggage call at 7am, we decided to do a bit of shopping and ended up eating dumplings and duck pancakes.

Our Chinese colleague told us it would only take 20 minutes or so to walk back to the hotel – it ended up taking nearly an hour, but we did get to walk past a dark Tienanmen Square and join the tourists in front of the Forbidden City.

Here is the compulsory hotel window view.

2015-07-15 07.32.49It was then off to the train station and Shanghai on the very fast train the next morning. It was quite a comfortable ride. Because I wasn’t allowed my work phone with email for security reasons, there really wasn’t much work I could do, so I got to enjoy some time with my book. We took the train (which went up to 300kms an hour) rather than fly because, with airport transit and waiting times it really wasn’t going to take much longer, and you can guarantee the train will be exactly on time, whereas the planes are almost always late in China.

I finished reading The Buried Giant on the train – it is rather a sad, thoughtful story beautifully written.

2015-07-15 13.01.04Finally we arrived in Shanghai.

2015-07-15 14.00.35The traffic was a bit heavy, so we had to race to our industry roundtable as soon as we arrived at the hotel.

2015-07-15 16.03.33There were a few minutes breathing space after this, and then it was off to a dinner event with Australian providers and their Chinese partners. We went to a restaurant run by an Australian called Mr Willis – food was excellent.

Official program over, we got to experience the “wow” of Shanghai by visiting the bar on the 38th floor of the Hyatt.  Amazing views.

2015-07-15 22.08.25 2015-07-15 22.26.58Tara who also travelled with me to India last year and I had to take a trip selfie. This was a good location for it.

2015-07-15 22.06.49-1

We were up early the next morning. I loved the jellyfish tank in the breakfast room at the Westin.

Also had the day time view of the Pearl.

2015-07-16 07.36.59My hotel room window view wasn’t shabby either.

2015-07-15 17.47.00Shanghai, in our extremely brief visit, is rather an impressive city if big exciting buildings impress you (I love them).

2015-07-15 18.12.41We headed off to the Shanghai Pharmaceutical School – they have a collaboration with Box Hill TAFE.

We each had our own guide – mine was Dragon – his name is “Lung” which is the Chinese word for dragon.

2015-07-16 09.12.28From there it was straight off to the airport and take off to Korea. Our plan got delayed on the runway, so we ended up an hour late in Seoul and the traffic didn’t cooperate, so were just under half an hour late for our industry roundtable there. The Minister went for an interview after but I went straight to the dinner function which was in a room at the Grand Hyatt with a spectacular view.

2015-07-16 18.28.48Dinner had all the usual formalities – but being in Seoul meant I got to sit at a table with the Korean folk I have worked with over the last three years and whose company I really enjoy. Even got to catch up with a couple of people we haven’t seen for a while.

2015-07-16 19.23.20

The view got no less spectacular when it got dark.

2015-07-16 20.52.56After the formalities were done, we went for a walk in Itaewon – the local area around the hotel. Ravi, the Deputy Ambassador, decided to take us on something of a death march and when we finally begged to stop for a beer, this was where we ended up.

2015-07-16 21.48.03Drinking this…

2015-07-16 21.55.44We went on to find a bit more Itaewon Street life after that break.

Here is the view from my Seoul hotel window.

2015-07-17 06.19.24

We were out of the hotel by 7.20am to catch the fast train I caught a couple of weeks ago to visit the Korea Polytechnics- Sydney TAFE collaboration.

It was a good visit with hearing about what they do and seeing the classrooms in action.

2015-07-17 09.16.17Back to Seoul for lunch before heading off to the Seoul Robotics High School. Before that, a random street scene in Seoul (that’s the Olympic cauldron).

2015-07-17 13.20.59And now, Seoul Robotics High School. The work done by the students was very impressive. I was completely devastated though – I got caught giving out kangaroo and koala pins to students and lost track of the rest of the party, and missed out on seeing ROBOTS DANCING TO K-POP. Another time, I guess.


We then had two meetings with Vice Ministers  – Employment and Labour and then Education – and then it was time to head out of town and to the airport.

2015-07-17 17.56.42It was an action-packed week. On the plane home I decided to decline breakfast to sleep for the extra hour.

2015-07-18 10.17.41Amazing view of the Lake George windfarm as I flew back into Canberra.

2015-07-18 16.36.11I got afternoon tea after an afternoon nap.

2015-07-18 16.50.10My head bruise had coloured up nicely.

2015-07-18 17.33.38Given the timing of my return, it really wasn’t feasible to make it up to Sydney for the final round of 5×5. So instead I watched it on TV (via the internet). We played outstandingly.

2015-07-18 21.27.17George wasn’t keen to let me read.

2015-07-19 12.26.34Carnage training got cancelled due to a high level of non attendance so I got to blow out the travelling cobwebs with a bit of skating with Jude and Sebastian and James and Thuggs.

2015-07-19 14.04.50Zac was meanwhile being transformed into a cheetah at his best friend’s birthday party.

To finish the weekend, some D&D. I was ready for bed though, quite early.

2015 weeks! #23: what happens when it rains all week

2015-06-15 12.56.28My right arm, well, elbow has been troubling me for a while, and has gotten a lot worse recently. So much so that my physio sent me off for an ultrasound and, if necessary, steroid injection. Apparently two injections were needed – in addition to tendonopathy I also had tears to my elbow tendon, it was super inflamed and the nerve was thickened. It is fascinating to watch the needle go in on the ultrasound – distracted me from the accompanying pain. The rest of the week I was resting my arm essentially in the hope I’ll be able to get back to using it properly again soon.

2015-06-16 15.06.23A day for fun stockings though.

2015-06-16 17.42.22Natasha and I got a chance for quick drinks between meetings and flights and so forth. We always make the most of these squeezed in opportunities.

2015-06-17 06.10.18Off to Brisbane for a presentation to an Indian delegation.

2015-06-17 08.46.22We were talking skills and the resource sector and links between India and Australia.

2015-06-17 11.17.07 HDRAnd it was a gloomy day for it.

2015-06-17 12.48.13On the theme of things Indian, I finished the Indian chick-lit novel I had picked up at the airport in Delhi last year. It was very entertaining and readable and I enjoyed it enormously. Also quite political.

2015-06-17 20.55.24The weather was awful this week, raining for days. I put my footy shoes on for walking in the rain because the ground was so wet.

2015-06-18 08.58.56One of the fun parts of meetings in Parliament House is getting to wander through the basement – so much quicker than having to go through the public entrance.

2015-06-18 15.33.06As I said, it was raining almost all week.

2015-06-18 16.18.29Another day trip, this time to Melbourne.

2015-06-19 06.08.35I can’t remember whether these were sunsets or sunrises as travelling…

Back at home, Jude was helping prepare fish for dinner.

2015-06-19 18.22.26-1Saturday morning and time for Jude’s hockey.

2015-06-20 11.14.39It was then off to Jude and Zac’s music recital – both played very well.

Lovely Saturday night dinner commencing with home made salmon gravlax.

2015-06-20 18.41.21After webber roasted pork and beef in the middle, we finished with caramel dumplings.

2015-06-20 20.15.44And some Eldritch Horror.

2015-06-20 21.32.34Sunday and Sebastian and I got our baking on and made spinach and feta tarts. Yum.

2015-06-21 14.34.34

2015 weeks #17: PNG n Perth

2015-05-04 07.58.40My one day in Canberra for the week began foggy  – very Canberra late-autumn weather.

2015-05-04 12.31.40In a busy day I met with East Timorese who gave me gifts and videoconferenced with Korean friends and got through everything else in between.

2015-05-05 05.26.13It was up early the next morning and en route to Port Moresby.

We got delayed in Brisbane. Apparently this is par for the course with Air New Guinea.

2015-05-05 09.50.44And then there we were.

2015-05-05 15.40.31I was in Port Moresby for an APEC policy dialogue on Human Capacity Building. It was being used as a taster for when PNG hosts APEC in a couple of years time.

2015-05-05 15.49.06We went and had dinner with Korean colleagues. They were quite enthusiastic about sampling the local beers, so we had a few to drink.

2015-05-05 18.51.19The hotel I stayed in was quite nice and very new. I was a bit disturbed by the super secure balcony especially when we were already behind barbed wire, but my favourite signs at the hotel were the ones about betel nut.

2015-05-05 20.48.13Our two days of meetings went well. They increased the degree of organisational difficulty by having lunches at different venues from the conference. We all got into buses and were escorted by police and everything. The first day we visited the PNG Parliament and lunched there.

2015-05-06 14.16.00We had an official dinner so I got frocked up.

2015-05-06 18.13.17I was super impressed that the orchids they gave us on arrival completely matched my dress.

2015-05-06 19.10.05The best part of the dinner was the dancers…

..although the dessert was pretty good too!

2015-05-06 21.03.25I gave my presentation on the second day. This was the view from the speaker’s seat before everyone came in.

2015-05-07 08.52.09On Friday morning before our flight we had a little bit of free time and I finally managed a swim in the pool.

2015-05-08 07.43.59We also got a bit of a tour around Port Moresby. This may be the only time I go on a tour with a police escort.

We also got to visit the markets for a quick bit of shopping.

I managed to finish my book before the flight home – i did enjoy its vision of the future and some of the ideas within it.

2015-05-08 08.58.13Back in Australia I met up with James and the rest of Capital Carnage at the airport in Sydney before we got on a flight to Perth.

2015-05-08 19.32.29The Carnage boys were in front of us.

2015-05-08 19.35.46We had a lovely day in Perth, starting with breakfast in King’s Park catching up with the Carnage team.

Then James and I headed down to Fremantle for a lovely afternoon.

It was then time for Carnage to take on Perth Men’s Roller Derby.

The boys played really well and were only just beaten, but as bench manager I was super happy because we had generally executed the game plan and played really well over all.

2015-05-09 21.28.18We stayed and watched some of Light City taking on Swan city until it became clear that Light City was going to win easily and the need for proper food overcame us.

The next morning was a boot camp with the visiting teams and Thuggernaut and I took the Carnage session which was lots of fun.

After the derbying was over, the team headed off to the beach for a few drinks and a bit of hanging out.

Scarborough Beach knows how to do a decent sunset.

2015-05-10 18.43.24

It was then time to head to Liz’s house for dinner – I was staying over night while James was heading back to the airport and home on the horror red eye which I refused to take. I knew I was accepted into the family when Attia presented me with a kitten sticker.