Craig and Ross in...............ISO

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August 23rd 2020
Published: August 23rd 2020
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Sunday August 23, 2020.

Journeying through ISO_2.1

The old saying is that Melbourne’s Yarra river runs upside down, with the muddy bottom being visible at the top. This seems to be a good metaphor for what is going on right now. Everything seems up-ended. The government does not want you to go out to pubs and clubs. People shun leaving the house to meet friends. Normally, you need a document to state why you are not at work. But right now, you need a document to say why you ARE going to work ! Such is the nature of ISO_2.1. Stage 4 lockdown. No leaving home except for shopping, exercise and certain permitted jobs. However, to be honest, it has not been a major impost for Ross and I. I can still go cycling about the place, and – thankfully – scientific research has been deemed an “essential service”. So I can go to the lab and do experiments. (Not much teaching this second semester). The roads are blissfully empty, and I can get a parking spot on campus no matter what time I drive in. I guess the main thing we miss is going out to dinner, to a restaurant or visiting friends. On the other hand, not going out anywhere and not having gone overseas at all this year, my bank balance has grown very nicely. I now personally would not mind at all if this lockdown extended beyond September if it means getting cases down to zero or negligible community transmission. Though I acknowledge I’m in the lucky position of being healthy and still being employed. Still, with daily COVID numbers continuing to fall here in Victoria, easing restrictions may come sooner rather than later. But, who knows? Like the career of Shannon Noll, no one really knows where the hell things are at.

For exercise, we are limited to within a 5km radius of home. For me here in Prahran, that stretches as far as the Yarra and the Botanical Gardens in one direction, and Albert Park and St Kilda beach down to Elwood in the other. Not bad at all. In fact, it technically extends about 100m offshore ! That’s if I wanted to go swimming in the sub-Antarctic water right now ! Near the river, the Royal Botanical Gardens are largely closed at the moment, but I did spot some dazzling beautiful flowers there last weekend. And the cherry blossoms are out now, too, as Spring steps up to clock on and Winter prepares to clock off for another year. Along Albert Park Lake, I have been photographing waterbirds. Got some lovely shots of ducks and swamphens. On one occasion, I rounded a bend on my bike and nearly slammed into comedian Dave Hughes, who was jogging along. Felt like helling “Hughesy, we have a problem.” I saw him later getting into a car with what looked like a multitude of little Hughesies. On another occasion, I was cycling along Chapel Street. Everyone here is required to wear a mask outside home. It is heartening to see virtually everyone complying. All sorts of masks, from the disposable surgical ones, to black or bright pink or tartan cloth ones, to the one that had the Joker’s grinning smile. I did have a little chuckle, though, when I spotted an old guy eating a sausage role through a gaping hole that he must have cut in a disposable mask ! I kid you not. I thought he had blood on the mask, till I got closer and realised it was tomato sauce smeared all over it! LOL.

Anyway, I occasionally drop into Coles or Woolies or Aldi when cycling. Sometimes you can walk straight in, other times there are long lines, where they are regulating the number of people entering. Aldi had a recent sale on USB-re-chargeable bicycle lights, so I swung by there. Sadly, there was a rather long queue to enter the joint and it was moving slowly. I joined the queue, and got unwittingly chatting to a woman in front of me – mask wearing and distancing, of course. She off-loaded her views on how she would never get a COVID vaccine, because it could cause autism. She apparently knew a boy who had autism and was vaccinated against whooping cough many years ago.

“But which came first – the autism or the vaccination?” I asked.

“How should I know?” she replied. “I hardly knew him. But it was all very suspicious.” I felt that this conversation was rapidly losing any appeal. Anyway, the line was hardly moving. I figured it might take as long to enter Aldi as it would for Donald Trump to do a four-piece jigsaw puzzle, so I left.

Home life is a predictable pattern of working on the computer or going into the lab, and then sitting down to whatever yummy dinner Ross has cooked up. Recent culinary highlights have included Greek-style herb roasted chicken with lemon potatoes, Mexican soft tacos, and grilled fish with pan fried Chinese vegetables. (Not all at once you understand!) San Chow Bow is also a hit (Marion’s kitchen packet mix, but very good). Ross does not shy away from trying more fiddly things either. One night, we had Japanese that we made entirely from scratch, including sushi and nori rolls. Yesterday, Ross embarked upon making his own focaccias, following an online recipe called “No Knead , While You Sleep” (a pun on “no need”). You make the dough and just put it in the fridge and it develops from there. He placed the dough as a small blob in a plastic container in the fridge overnight. Today, the fricking thing has indeed swollen and grown to look like a giant pale elephant turd. It’s still in the fridge. I suppose that by tomorrow morning we should see it oozing all along the seal of the fridge door, trying to get out. Like a giant amoeboid blob from that 1950’s movie.

Random mid-blog question for you. The image of the red thing opposite, stored in a drawer here at home. What is it? Don’t cheat and use google Image. Send me a text or Facebook PM.

Not much else interesting has transpired, where days seem all very similar and the highlights involve submitting yet another review paper, or watching the resident turtle doves building a nest. However, I am thoroughly enjoying getting into the lab when I can during the week. In addition, the weather has been remarkably mild and sunny this Winter in Melbourne, more so than I can ever remember. Though I think part of this is psychological, having been inside for much of it! Meanwhile, free-to-air TV continues its fine tradition of being insultingly mind-numbing. We did enjoy watching the biographical doco “Jane” on Netflix the other night. About iconic Jane Goodall. What a lady, what a life, what an environmental warrior. However, Ross appears to have taken on my father’s habit of picking apart the physical appearance of anybody he sees on TV. UNSW epidemiologist Professor Mary-Louise McLaws often pops up on ABC these days, wearing some rather distracting Edna-esque glasses and giving her views on COVID.

“She must have just been to the Royal Easter show” Ross said.

“Why?” I asked

“Because clearly she got those glasses from a show bag.”

We did have “Quarantinis” via Zoom with friends Megan and Stephen one night. We put colourful masks on two Chesty Bond male busts that Ross bought many years ago, so that when the Zoom started, that’s is what Megan and Stephen first saw. I met Megan back in the late 1980s. We were both in our 20’s and we both worked at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Darlo, Sydney. I lived in Bondi with Carol at the time and Megan lived in the Erskineville area. We immediately hit it off – I loved her gregarious nature and sense of humour and she loved passing comment of whatever hair colour I had of a Monday morning after whatever party I’d been to over the weekend. We flatted together at one point, and Megan hosted many a fine house party. (Megan, who can forget the Halloween Party and the stolen Jack-o-lantern?). We drifted apart when she moved to QLD, but now she is here in Melbourne, working at La Trobe Uni, and it has been great to re-connect. Megan is sharp witted, funny, has a shining social conscience and I adore her. It’s lovely to have you here in Melbourne, m’lady.

About two weeks ago I found a note in our letterbox regarding a lost cat. Beside a picture of an unremarkable looking tabby was some of its vital statistics. It was 4 years old, male, de-sexed and microchipped. And its name was Gordon Porterhouse II, if you don’t mind. No wonder it had been missing for six days; it had clearly run away from its name. I assume there was a Gordon Porterhouse I, who no doubt also pissed off. Speaking of animals, do you recall the photo I posted of the urban fox in the first blog? The bloody thing sitting on our neighbour’s roof? Well, I worked out why there are urban foxes in Melbourne city. ‘Cause there are urban rabbits. Just down the road, in a park near here, there are rabbits, hopping about in broad daylight. The nerve! Coronavirus should switch is predilection from hominids to uninvited lagomorphs.

Some random Dementor from the internet criticised me over my first ISO blog because it “had nothing to do with travel and tourism”. But what defines travel and tourism, especially right now? Going overseas? Going interstate? Or maybe even just going to the next suburb? What’s wrong with describing places and experiences across various parts of a city? That’s what I’ve been doing. And anyway, my first ISO blog was one of Travelblog’s featured blogs of the week. However, here is a little bit of travel info to soothe the Dementor, and anyone else: You don’t need to pay a fortune and travel 2 hours down to Phillip Island to see little blue penguins. There is a thriving colony among the rocky break-wall of St Kilda pier. Not hundreds, but scores come ashore at dusk and during the night. Easily seen. Even during the day, you can see some standing about under the rocks, as I have. As an added bonus, rakali (native water rats with white tipped tails and webbed feet) also live there. I recall one magical Summer evening when Thomas, Alesia, Ross and I went there with beer and pizzas, a few years ago now. Not only did we see the penguins and rakali, but the whole shoreline was awash with a rare phenomenon- bioluminescent algae. It made the water glow brilliant blue whenever you splashed about in it. Brilliant, like something out of Avatar. (Hey, when is the next Avatar coming out?)

Well, anyway, as Socrates said, “There is only one good - knowledge, and only one evil - internet trolls.”


P.S. More ISO photos below

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24th August 2020

Nice to see you are both well and coping
Well this year really does suck dogs nuts. But I take pleasure in hearing your ISO adventures and enjoy catching up with what you are both up to. One day we will be able to re-visit, until then take care xx

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