zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
Today started (after a certain amount of groaning and dragging myself out of bed) with a vendor breakfast. I avoid vendor things labelled as "hors d'oeuvres" because they're generally at the time of day when you're exhausted and starving and they want you to stand around attempting to subsist on food that would barely satisfy a sparrow and alcohol that would inebriate an ox. But a seated three-course breakfast seemed worth tolerating some vendor speeches for, even if it was at seven thirty in the morning. Luckily my cold was much alleviated overnight plus I planned ahead and took my own tissues.

Course one was muesli, yoghurt and fruit; course two was a breakfast steak, bacon, poached egg, tomato, mushrooms, and smashed potato; course three was various breads. Courses one and two were actually on the table the whole time, along with tea, coffee and juice; the above order is based on the menu which we all, more or less, obediently followed. Smashed potato, for the curious, appears to be what happens when the cook is too lazy to either mash the potato properly for hash browns or cut it properly for fries. I sound like I judge, but it does create a fun random mix of soft and crispy.

There followed eight hours' worth of sessions and mingling. I caught up with an old colleague who now works in Dubai, various other old colleagues, a lot of vendors at their stalls (they like someone to tell about their products; I like the free USB sticks. Also some of the products even if mostly we still can't afford them - actually it's often most useful to talk to the vendors whose products we already subscribe to because they can tell us the goss as I can nag them about those bugs we keep reporting), and a few strangers who have migrated to a system we're going to migrate to. After the last session there were drinkies and sparrow hors d'oeuvres, but it was bearable because there was also icecream (provided by a vendor, I think) and a magic show.

Then I came back to my hotel to crash for a couple of hours before dinner and realised it was already seven twenty. So that was a day.

In new and unexciting random maladies, my socks are perhaps too tight for twelve hours of conferencing because I now have an achy ankle. Also using my salbutamol inhaler because my lungs like the air conditioning (plus virus) as little as the rest of my respiratory system, yay.

--Okay, the "30 free minutes per 24 hours" doesn't seem to have a set rollover time, it wants to be at least 24 hours since you last used it.
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
Okay, so this thing with the sore throat and stuffy nose which is totally the air conditioner and not a cold? It might be a cold too. In that I spent all of today's conference raiding their tissues and feeling faintly scatter-brained. However this was all stuff we really need to know at work so I stayed on infecting people for the bulk of the day and just bailed at the start of the wrap-up session.

I wasn't so sick that on the way home I couldn't stop off to do a bit of vital tourist shopping including these loves of my life:

Blue sandals, purple soles

On the rest of my way home I came across an incredible number of police at a couple of intersections, like a dozen per intersection, a pair of whom at each intersection were directing traffic. Possibly some traffic lights were broken, though most of them looked fine? It was a mystery and most of the police were just standing around on the corners in hi-vis vests. Anyway, while I was trying to a) work out what on earth they were doing there but b) not attract attention because law-abiding citizen foreigner or not, that many police in one spot is slightly intimidating especially when one of them gets real mad at a car not paying attention and starts shouting at it -- so anyway, this other car pulls over halfway across the intersection in what seems a really weird way to be behaving when there are all these scary police massed in one location, and then a taxi cab pulled over behind it, and then I remembered that Australia has this weird traffic rule for turning right.

(US folk should here substitute "turning left" for "turning right". It's the turn that goes across the oncoming traffic.)

In the rule I'm familiar with, if you want to turn right and there's only one lane, you pull as far into the intersection and to the right as you can go without getting sideswiped by the oncoming traffic. It's possible that doing this isn't entirely legal, but short of a right-turn arrow it's often the only way to turn right, because as the lights change anyone who's already in the intersection has to complete the turn to get out of it, whereas anyone who follows the rules and waits behind the lines has to just stay there.

In Australia, apparently what you do is you pull as far into the intersection as you can go, except you pull to the left. This seems really counterintuitive to me. At the same time I can see that pulling to the right could cause problems with trams which run in the centre of the road. Is this the reason for it? Or is it to allow the traffic going straight to "pass on the right"? It looks really weird but it seems to work in that everyone other than me knew what was going on and all the traffic present seemed to get where it wanted to get to.

(ETA: explanations in Dreamwidth comments.)

After all this excitement I spent the rest of the afternoon/early evening dozing. With the air conditioner off because air conditioning is still evil and it's a lot cooler today anyway: there was cloud and wind and even spots of something trying to be rain. Currently attempting to eat something despite a complete lack of appetite, and hoping I'm better for tomorrow's conference because I don't have my favourite aloe tissues here.
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
So I succumbed to the lure of the opals; I ended up preferring the white because if I wanted shiny-irridescent blue jewelery I'd get paua. (Paua doesn't do the thing with the red, but a proper black opal with red is not really in my discretionary budget.)

Then I got on a train out to meet [personal profile] deird1. The countryside in this area feels much like Canterbury (in fact there's a town?/station called Canterbury, but that's a complete coincidence and of course I don't mean that one, nor the original in England, I mean Canterbury New Zealand as in home) except with vastly more eucalyptus / gum trees. We drove up the hill and it turns out that when there are lots of gum trees all together, being all forest-like and such, they grow straight instead of gnarly. It's a little strange and very pretty because gum trees have the most gorgeous bark with those patchy colours. --And then we had lunch, and then we wandered through all the crafty stores in the areas (there's a toy store with puppets and Sylvanians! I'd forgotten about the Sylvanians! also a lace store and kitchenware store and soaps-and-oils store and a place with those trees crafted out of wire and gems, and this great place with wooden chests and globes and magnifying glasses and rugs and all, you half expect to come across the wardrobe to Narnia). And we compared notes on childhood lollies and generally had a great time.

In due course I took the train back home again, which went well for the first few stops. Then there was apparently a power outage at some station so we were hanging around Ringwood station while they tried to arrange buses instead.

(Have I mentioned there's a bit of a heat wave going on here at the moment? The hotel has this electronic noticeboard that insists that the high is 32 degrees and the low 21 degrees -- however I've just noticed that it also insists that the date is Thursday 30th January. I remember Thursday. It was quite warm, but it's grown significantly warmer since then.)

Buses not being immediately forthcoming, after a while I decided to wander around Ringwood, to wit: walk ten minutes to the shopping mall which had air conditioning and a McDonalds, who sell this fantastic salt delivery mechanism they call 'fries'. Having been drinking substantial amounts of water and possessing a general awareness of cell biochemistry, this seemed like a good idea. I also got some grapes (I was right, fruit's cheaper in supermarkets that aren't in a train station in the Melbourne CBD) and drank more water.

I got back to the train station in time to squeeze onto a replacement bus. It was very much standing room only and hot enough that I had the sweat literally running down the backs of my legs. This isn't quite the first time I've had that, but it was probably the most dramatic and it's a really weird feeling, like someone's turned the tap and just opened up your pores.

So eventually we got back to a train station that had trains that a) could take us back into town and b) had air conditioning. Got back into town and my swipe card wouldn't let me out the turnstile. I don't know what the problem was (did it get confused at the 3-hour journey? did I fundamentally misunderstand the fare structure and overdraw the card? was it a random malfunction? no-one will ever know) because the nice Metro man just swiped me out with his card.

Upon which I came back to the hotel via a shop window which has these awesome shoes in it. You guys, I normally have real trouble shoe shopping. Currently I quite desperately need more sandals and I love that at the moment there are lots of sandals in nice colours (like, there are sandals in colours!) and lots of sandals with low heels and in fact these two sets overlap a reasonable amount. Yet until now, all summer, I've been seeing pairs that have slightly too high of a price:motivation ratio. They look okay, they're just not convincing. But this pair, love at first sight. Just as soon as I walk past this shop when it's open, if they feel as nice on my feet as they look in the window they will be mine.

Back at the hotel I took a shower in my clothes which I've never done before but it was fantastic, I should do it more often when it's 40-something degrees out, and then I got into dry clothes and crashed on my bed.

When I woke up I felt cooler because air conditioning and it was late, so I put on my jacket and wandered out for dinner. Hahaha, what was I thinking? I so didn't need my jacket. But I got some fantastic kimchi soup in this restaurant playing a fantastic sequence of Korean pop and "Do you want to build a snowman?" and more Korean pop and "Unbreak my heart". I don't know who programmed that mix tape but they're probably going to be recognised as a genius by generations to come.

After depositing my jacket back in the hotel, I went to wander the South Bank (thanks [personal profile] deird1 for the tip!) Currently it's full of stalls with South-East Asian foods and plants and toys and fans and knick-knacks; and a concert going on and wow that woman can't hold a note to save her life but major props that she's managing to dance in this weather. On this leisurely wander of less than an hour I drank a third pint of water for the day (not counting soup or multiple glasses of water at meals): I'm staving off dehydration pretty well if I do say so myself, but my inner ear appears to be a little bewildered by the weather all the same.
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
After Friday night's penguin adventures I slept in a bit Saturday morning, but still managed to be wandering the shopping precinct a few minutes before everything opened at ten. So for a few minutes there I was thinking Melbourne was a startlingly sleepy little town of a weekend.

Shops seen include the magic shop which is adorable but most of the stuff for sale seemed to be little tricks of the whoopee cushion variety (not saying I don't have fond memories of the whoopee cushion); teddy bear shop ("for every bear that ever there was"; an intriguing number of jerky shops; a pen shop and a bookbinding shop and cupcake shops and chocolate shops and all the clothes and shoe shops.

While I was in the complex that is Melbourne Central Station I also visited the Shot Museum. Because when you're a developer and want to build a giant shopping mall but there's a really tall heritage building in the way what you do apparently is enclose it in a giant glass dome and build your shopping centre around it. The museum is in the back of one of those clothes shops that sells manly clothes for manly men.

After a two-hour wander over a half-hour distance I ate my lunch in the park where I was mobbed by flies so small at first I thought they were mozzies. They're not quite that small but they're about halfway between mozzie size and proper Kiwi fly size. Then I went to see the exhibition in the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre in the Melbourne Museum - as well as the more permanent looking displays they were showcasing a project where about thirty kids around Melbourne got to work on making traditional possum skin cloaks.

So a couple hours later I came out and wandered through what looked like a Russian (or possibly more generically Slavic) cultural festival; at least the stall where I got pancakes and a drink of mors was fundraising for the local Russian Orthodox Church. Some incredibly staunch people wearing traditional clothes designed for Russian temperatures were dancing in temperatures that made the more sensible seagulls sit down in the shade of the trees in the park to rest.

I decided I was done walking so found the free city loop tram and sat there until I found an interesting looking stop, which happened to be the Lightning Ridge Opal Mines store. It was fairly quiet and the shop assistant gave me a lesson in varieties of opals (using the game of "Guess which one's $60, which is $600, and which is $6000") and let me hold a big lizard. I'm now pondering. (I'm definitely not going to get the $6000 one, gorgeous as it was.)

Wandering back from there through the lanes, which are a lot cooler than the roads because the sun doesn't reach all the way down, I stumbled across the city library. And a few shops near to the "dollar shop" style variety.

And then I got back to the hotel and crashed for the evening. Until I wanted internet and discovered the hotel's "30 free minutes per day" day runs from midnight to midnight instead of checkin to checkin, so then I wandered out to a spot where the map said had free wifi, and lo! there was free wifi and it was glorious.

(The sore throat is too long-lived without other symptoms to be a bug, and I've been drinking water fairly constantly so it's not dehydration per se, so definitely blaming the air conditioner.)
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
In Christchurch, even on an overcast day I have to wear sunglasses against the glare. (Not on all cloudy days; there's just a certain kind of high cloud.) In Melbourne, it seems to be frequently very comfortable for me to not wear sunglasses even when it's perfectly fine.

Also, at the conference I was at yesterday the air conditioning had been turned on a little too well, so at lunchtime when I was talking to someone we went out and talked in the sun. We were there about half an hour. In the full summer sun at noon. What was I thinking? --And yet I didn't get burned.

--

I bailed on the conference early due to the last session being of no interest to me whatsoever, either professional or personal, and instead took the opportunity to go find the Koorie Heritage Trust which otherwise would have been permanently scheduled against all my other conferences. Unfortunately baggage allowances these days limit you per bag as well as by weight, which I hadn't paid attention to before choosing the bag I'm travelling with, but I got a few books I should be able to squeeze in.

Got back to the hotel and changed shoes, then met my co-traveller who had hired a car and conceived the notion of going around to see the penguins come in from the sea at sunset. I'm not yet used to the scale of things here, which is not a reference so much to the rush hour traffic out of Melbourne or the two hour trip (although I did eventually realise that the reason my backbrain was convinced that we were heading north, even though the setting sun was on my right at the time, was because in Canterbury if you've got the sea to your right then you're heading north) as to expecting there to be a couple dozen people hanging around on a beach watching these penguins come in. Instead there were a few hundred, sitting in actual amphitheatres and well outnumbering the penguins.

The penguin place keeps calling them the "little penguins" which I thought was just, you know, being cute for the tourists, until I saw them next to the seagulls massed on the shore. In the end I'm not sure which of the two species were actually bigger, but the penguins would definitely collect in little groups before venturing through the gauntlet of seagulls. So tiny.

(No photos of penguins allowed, though jerks kept trying. So I got a blurry sunset photo on the way, and then a blurry photo of a bird which my backbrain promptly decided was a cassowary. Was my backbrain right? Is it possible to tell anything from this photo? Maybe it's a moa.)

--

Woke this morning with a sore throat which I'm going to treat like it's dehydration rather than early onset con-crud, because the latter would be a blasted nuisance given that I've got three conferences still to attend next week.

So far have visited/attended things at three separate universities, two of which are in walking distance from me and basically next door to each other. Monday is at a fourth, and then I think the next ones are back at universities I've already been at. [ETA: Oh no, just realised Monday's conference isn't at the university, it's at the university's conference centre here in the CBD. So disappoint!]

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