Who can stand in a line when drinking way too much coffee?

July 24, 2006 at 10:52 am | Posted in Sydney, Travel | Leave a comment

On Sunday we went to the Aroma Coffee Festival. It was a good day with beautiful warm winter weather made even warmer by lots of cheap coffee ($1 per cup). Not all the stalls provided coffee, some were for coffee makers, tours and general displays. I would have preferred to try a sample of each (even though my taxi-driver warned that more than 4 would kill me!) but there were substantial queues at a many of the providers. Particularly those at the entrances. Fortunately, I was still able to try:

-Karmee Coffee (no mocha available here) the latte was ok but lacked the rich taste I prefer

-Veneziano Coffee (no mocha either) short macchiato, I’m not a big drinker of macchiato’s so I can’t discuss in depth but it was a nice blend

-Piazzo D’Oro: They had two lines, one for coffee and one for hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was delicious we came back for seconds! Meanwhile I finally got a mocha but, for a coffee festival it was disappointing. Basically they just squirted some chocolate into a pre-made latte. Luckily adding some hazelnut flavouring helped to remedy the lacklustre taste.

-Voodooo Rocky Road. Not coffee, I tried the white chocolate rocky road. It became a bit sickening by the end so I couldn’t finish it. Next time I might try the milk chocolate.

If not for the lines (I’m too impatient) I would have liked to try the Turkish coffee and the Mayan Chocolate.

Some of the vendors were from chains and shops I’d been to many times in the past so I was able to focus on new tastes. Oddly I thought Starbucks and Gloria Jeans would have made an appearance.

After wandering around the festival for a while we took a wander across the Bridge and through Luna Park. I’ve often thought about going to Luna Park – at least from a distance on the other side of the harbour or on high when taking the train running above to work and seeing all the lights at night. I’m not saying that reality was disappointing but honestly I’d always thought there would be more. Still if you were high on sugar and with a group of friends all those carnival rides would be a lot of fun!

On my way home I had another Coffee (number 4!) at the Grumpy Baker (see Food & Drink).

A summary and photos will be on the Travel tab soon.

Not even actively procrastinating.

July 19, 2006 at 2:11 pm | Posted in Procrastination | 2 Comments

I’d like to say that my current job is dull and I spend all my time surfing the web and IM-ing but not this time. Work has consisted of late days and very little let up from the hubub of activity. This is a very unusual state for me as practically every job I’ve ever had was filled with countless hours of boredom. Although having weekday drinks with workmates is a relaxing break.

If I had more free time in the office I would probably blog during the 9-5. I just hope it doesn’t turn out like the story of Catherine’s experience or see at her site. Good luck with your challenge and finding work.

OK for some reason it’s not linking properly. The full site is: www.petiteanglaise.com/

What would Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver think?

July 19, 2006 at 1:28 pm | Posted in Random | Leave a comment

I must be very tired and possibly drunk to start seriously considering the possibilities of the Pasta Express! Scary! Even if it does work I can’t imagine cooking pasta in anything but a pot. Although making pasta presumes that I cook. Anything. Ever.

Rainy day = Museum time

July 15, 2006 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Sydney, Travel | Leave a comment
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Today I went with Rhiannon and Amy to The Powerhouse Museum. With all the pros and cons facing any museum, especially during the school holidays, the Powerhouse definitely comes out on top. The museum features a wide variety of subject materials including design (tea cups to couches and buildings), steam power, Australian innovation, history and home-life to a section talking about basic principles. My personal favourite is the space exhibit including a number of models, very interesting. The museum is also interactive – though that interactivity is largely built for children. While I was occasionally bored – as you do sometimes in a museum – it really didn’t last long.

There were so many materials and even when we didn’t read or look at everything in depth we still didn’t see everything after over 2 hours!

Really, one of the few downsides is that the museum is located in Ultimo – indeed they were having an exhibit on the local area’s history but sadly it wasn’t overly impressive – and, at least on a weekend, there doesn’t seem much around of interest. Other than the Maritime Museum (that’s for another week).

While you have to pay for the Powerhouse it is well worth it.

Also went to another cafe – check out the food tab.

Whoa! And other expressions of a near failure.

July 14, 2006 at 1:07 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment

Finally got my final semester’s results. Overall they were ok and I while I had hoped my liability result would be higher but not too bad. Acceptable. Unfortunately, I received one very disappointing mark. A pass, a bare pass – 51% (it was a 100% take home exam). Although I’m somewhat relieved that all the paranoia, fear and anxiety I had over this subject weren’t for nothing. Also, I’m kind of impressed that my very first pass was done in glorious fashion.

Strangely, I’m not as freaked as I thought I would be. My only concern is how this will impact any future academic endeavours, or how I’d explain it to those administrators when I can’t even explain the result to myself. I guess I can rely on my honours’ mark.

Now, while I admit to being a bit glum on the way home three things happened.

First, had the joy of standing next to a homeless/ crazy/ poor hygiene man on the train and had the obvious thought that if this is my only complaint when I have good friends and life then a poor grade doesn’t matter.

Two, walking home went past a guy, he looked familiar, turns out we went to uni together. It was random and it was good to catch up after a few years.

Third, as I waited for my pizza I looked out the window and saw an old man with large jowls looking so sullen. I wondered to myself whether that’s how I appeared (minus the fat) or would in a few years if I had a negative attitude. By no means an epiphany, simply a pondering.

Enough navel gazing. Back to normal life.  

Progression is good.

July 13, 2006 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Language Study, Podcasts, Random | Leave a comment

I’ve been pondering what to do with my “languages” page and as this blog is meant to be, in part, a reflection of my motivation I thought it best to, after completing a unit in my textbook, to do a recap possibly with vocab and grammar notes. If I don’t I imagine I’ll keep coming up with excuses not to study. Therefore I’ll be building that up over the week. Unless something shiny distracts me.

Also I recently listened to Josh in Japan and his very interesting pod-cast of, well, a guy called Josh living in Japan. He’ll soon be heading back to the US to complete studies, fortunately he’ll be continuing his JiJ pod-cast and possibly future endeavours. Download episode 40 for the details. I’ve enjoyed the pod-casts, it was great to listen to them while bored at work and gave me incentive to travel to Japan! Best of luck to you and your family and hope to hear more, whether it’s Japan related or not.

Random – despite updating all my software and hardware my fancy (relatively) new Dell Media PC occasionally will not restart/load from standby mode leaving me no choice but to pull out the plug and put back in again thus losing all active data and probably doing some other damage. I’m not sure if I should blame Microsoft (such an easy target) or Dell. Though as a gripe it’s not so bad.

Learning by pod

July 12, 2006 at 1:58 pm | Posted in French Lessons, Japanese lessons, Language Study, Mandarin Lessons, Podcasts | 3 Comments

I recently got a search hit for Japanese Pod 101 and I thought it would be a good idea to go into more detail with my language learning experiences through the medium of pod-casting instead of the one sentence aside I had previously.

Besides JP101 I also use Chinese Pod. I think they may be jointly owned; although they have different sponsors the similarity in their site design is remarkable. Though that’s just mild speculation on my part and has nothing to do with their product.

The great benefit of both is the ability to download lessons on a variety of topics and abilities in a fun, up to date setting that is by far an improvement over my previous audio systems – language CDs. However, just like those CDs I’d often get distracted or start pondering something or other while commuting. The easiest time to listen. As a result I’ve tended to not absorb or learn as much as I could or should. 

One of the features on JP101 (not sure about CP) is a feature providing sub titles on ipod and some other mp3 players. My Imate doesn’t appear to have this function but for everyone else it’s great!

Both as a language learning tool and a money earner (they definitely deserve it) the hosts (who are fantastic) recommend visiting the site to download a plethora of other materials. It’s these additional materials and helpful community on their forums that put both pods above the rest. They have 7-day free trials that should help if you’re undecided as well as basic and premium packages.

The audio is an important part of the learning process and the added materials help to round everything out although it’s important to note, generally, and for me to acknowledge that without dedication all of these wonderful tools will not lead to growth.

This blog is part of developing that dedication. If you have the motivation take a look at the pod-casts.

I would have liked to tell you about a French pod-cast but sadly there is no French equivalent that I’ve found of equal value. If you have a suggestion please let me know.

… but is it art?

July 12, 2006 at 12:27 pm | Posted in Sydney, Travel | 1 Comment

This week’s field trip was to the Museum of Contemporary Art at Sydney’s Circular Quay with Rhiannon. It was good to see it with someone and compare notes and our notes for the MCA were not good. You can check Rhiannon’s thoughts here. We spent about 20 mins which is totally indicative of the experience. I suppose the first thing to note is they are quite anal about my water bottle. Requesting that it be in a bag not just unopened. So odd given most of their pieces were projected onto walls so in the unlikely event that it spilt wouldn’t really damage anything. Also only last week was I sipping water in front of unprotected million dollar paintings at the NSW Art Gallery. The MCA clearly has a complex. It is also sad that this is the what I’m taking away from the Museum.

I’ve had to re-write this review any number of times as I end up going into either a rant at the lack of accessibility or a self-justification for not being culturally literate enough to appreciate the value of the art. From what I could glean from the pieces and their highly informative (read: sarcasm) descriptions most of them were relating to pain, death and war. Frankly I’m sick of it. I realise that those themes have their place but like my thoughts of the World Press Photos I wish that joy and happiness could get a look in once and a while.  

I took a picture of the building but it didn’t come out very well which is apt for the MCA.

We had coffee near the Opera House and looked out over the Quay in the afternoon light, watching ferries, the tall ships, water taxis and the Spirit of Tasmaniaas they sailed around. Plenty of tourists to people watch as well. Much better than the MCA! 

Unless you’re an art or more importantly a contemporary art lover the MCA is a definite miss.

Catching up is hard to do.

July 12, 2006 at 12:06 pm | Posted in General, News, Random | Leave a comment

Since the last post things have been going well, although I have been procrastinating, which explains the delay. Even so I managed to visit more of Sydney and I’ll cover that in another post soon.

What are some of the other things that have been going on? 

First, The Daily Show is now in sync. Very good news!

Second, despite my train being delayed last night and having the choice of going back a station and getting a bus or walking over the Bridge and home I chose the latter. It was pretty cool, with the a full moon illuminating the harbour and the Opera house. However, any idea I had of walking to work has been put on hold. Not through distance or time but more from the pollution. Doing that every day would probably do more harm than good. The night ended quite well with drinks and food out with friends till the bar closed.

Next up, had a pretty good week at work, we had our end of financial year drinks and alcohol supplied by the company is a lot of fun. Definitely different to the public sector! Also I’ve realised that the views that I glimpse of the water every so often are one of my favourite things. Brief respite and relaxation from the hustle and bustle. 

Lastly, at my apartment complex this morning I was getting ready, when the water stopped. Just stopped. A bit of a problem when you still need it. At least it was complex wide, unfortunately they hadn’t told people that the water was going to be turned off unlike previous times. Very annoying. Oh well at least we saved a bit of the city’s water today.

Not so Japan -easy

July 5, 2006 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Language Study, Podcasts | 1 Comment

I went to Berlitz last night for a complimentary beginner’s Japanese class. Overall I wasn’t satisfied with the class. While I see the advantage of a small class if everyone’s not up to speed it can bring everything down. I felt bad for one of the students who had clearly not studied at all and the teacher tried to explain the concepts but it was not sinking in. One of the other students was obviously frustrated and kind of an ass about it, the final student seemed decent. The teacher was ok and while I understood her unhappiness with the weak student I didn’t appreciate the comments she made when he was out of the room. Professionalism please! On the flip side (that’d be my puerile side) the teacher had long curly hair, occasionally she’d run her hand through it leaving a big swath of it, up and over the left to the right side. I had to stifle my laughter – I must have been bored or tired – I had had 3 coffees and a coke that day!

While I want to speak the language I also want to be able to read and write. Assuming (big assumption) I do study when I plan to I can see myself getting bored pretty quickly in class, personally I don’t need to drill the same forms relentlessly. I’d rather do it for a bit, study at home to be reviewed the next week and then move onto more content. Though, that’s just me.

Apparently Berlitz classes basically only do verbal work. They do offer private and semi-private classes but there are only two Japanese teachers, as I’ve mentioned already I’m not thrilled with the teacher I had and having to spend 10, 1 on 1 classes would be a trial. Unfortunately the other teacher comes in on a day I can’t come in.

Regardless of where I study or whether it’s self-study using tools like Japaneses Pod 101 or not will require me to actually study and make an effort. Without that it’s all pointless.

I shall make an effort as my abilities increase to write small pieces in other languages.

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