E-mail from a friend: “You’ll be glad to know that your website is blocked by the hospital IT: due to ‘adult content’. Nights are painful.” It happened again!
I’m aware (and pretty honoured actually) that there are numerous people who I don’t know in real life but have been regularly reading my site for several years. Some leave comments, most don’t. So, I’ve redone the guestbook which has been a spammer’s toilet for the last few years, and stolen Anthony’s idea: I’d appreciate it if you spend a minute dropping a brief message about who you are in there.
Also, still accepting postcard requests, have four so far.
Putting four years of knowledge into the commons, I’ve written up a rundown of all the restaurants in Kingsford. The best restaurant award goes to:
Ben’s The Thai Takeaway
Prices: $6 for lunch; $7 for dinner
Service: Order at counter, grab your own water jug and cups
Recommended: Split a tom yum soup between two to accompany the meal
Stay away from: The rice noodles, which are very oily (but not the pad thai)
Closed on Mondays.
Ben’s is tucked away off the main Anzac Parade strip. Nonetheless, despite its relatively obscure location, its Jet Li lookalike owner runs a roaring trade. Ben’s is the staple in any student’s diet. All food, even the soup, is cooked in just two blackened woks. They’ve been seasoned so well that I reckon you can boil water in them and the water will taste good.
You can order shared dishes, or more typically, from the individual serve menu, which offers large one-dish servings of tasty food at among the lowest prices in Kingsford. The lunch and dinner menus are identical, but the servings for dinner are larger. Don’t bother asking for dishes by name look down the list and tell them the dish number (because that’s what they write down on their pad). My flatmate swears by the “101” Gai Todd, which is essentially a chicken schnitzel on rice with some sweet chilli sauce and the “106” a large pork omelette on rice but those two dishes are a little dry for my liking. I prefer the “113” which is a beef red curry, and the chicken with cashew nuts. Also, Pad Thai is available on a separate menu for $7.50. It’s by no means the best tasting Pad Thai in town, but it’s the largest serving of noodles around.
Read all the reviews here. I didn’t realise there were so many restaurants along a 1km strip of road!
Restaurant Balzac is based in Randwick. It moved recently from a non-descript position in The Spot to the place where Al Dente used to be on Belmore Road, in a large historic sandstone building on an intersection corner. It’s a much more fitting venue as they have more space and a better decor. The inside is well lit, although a little noisy.
Balzac probably has the most affordable 2-hatted restaurant tasting menu in Sydney at $80pp ($125 formatching wines). About half of the seven-course menu was seafood based. The meal was worth it – pretty tasty, but the desserts were the best part (including a course they called “pre-dessert”, whatever that means). The restaurant is a good place for a late night dessert. Service was patchy. I liked how they talked about the dishes when they brought them out in a down-to-earth manner, and how the waitstaff didn’t put on any airs. On the other hand, the timing between courses was erratic. Some courses were served 15 minutes apart, some 45 minutes apart. After we got in, we had waited about twenty minutes without anyone coming to take our orders, so we had to fetch a waiter ourselves. Granted, it was a very busy night, but still. Nonetheless, the food is very good.
About a year ago, because I have a PayPal account, I received a letter from some law firm asking if I wanted to join in a class action law suit against PayPal. I don’t know what the litigation concerned, but I signed up anyway. I just received a cheque for US$7 because PayPal ended up settling the suit. The settlement worked out to be US$8 per class member, but $1 went to lawyers’ fees. The problem is I suspect that cashing an international cheque incurs bank fees which see me having to pay money to bank it. I’m sure a lot of people are in a similar position and can’t be bothered cashing in a small cheque and the consequence is that whatever PayPal ended up pledging in their settlement, they will only actually have to pay out a fraction of that.
I just realised that despite the cheque not having a country on the mailing label, and “NS” instead of “NSW”, the US postal service still managed to get it sent to me. Impressive.
So, I have about seven months of freedom in between uni finishing and work starting. I’m filling up four of them by going backpacking again, leaving in a couple of weeks on July 10. I’m spending two months in South-East Asia with Cheryl, then a month in Eastern Europe with Doz, then a month in the US and Canada with both of them. I don’t know if any regular readers live in any of the cities that appear in my itinerary, but if so, please drop me a mail! Looking heaps forward to it. More details as they come.
I will do what I did five years ago and offer a postcard, to the first five or ten readers who ask, from their country of choice. E-Mail me with your postal address and desired country if you want a postcard.
Let me know if anything is broken. There are a few design elements that I’m not happy with – colours and use of too many fonts – but I think the text is more readable. Permalinks now show the individual post with the comments underneath. There’s also the option to view a permalink in the context of the month it appears in. If the post is part of a series, you can also view the whole series, such as for this post. I made a half-assed attempt at converting the layout to use CSS which also means that, unfortunately for Vic, the liquid design is no longer available (though because it’s all in CSS now, it’s just a matter of replacing the default stylesheet, but CSS gives me a headache so I can’t be bothered). You can now send in mastheads in two formats – the panoramic 768×110 format, and the old 400×84 format.
I handed in my very last law exam on Tuesday. It was for Industrial and Intellectual Property, which is a subject that for some reason is perennially popular, but is actually a lot less glamourous than it sounds. What an Australian statute is doing by defining a phrase by stubbornly referring the reader to a UK Act passed in 1623 (and which the UK itself itself has long since replaced) is quite bizarre.
But anyway, it’s the end of my six and a half year stint at UNSW. I pulled up my library borrowing record and it shows:
Three items. As you can see, I’m a prodigious library user. One loan was for a set of keys to a moot room which I used for tutoring, one is a loan for a friend doing Med, and the other was an open reserve loan for another friend. So, in effect, I’ve never borrowed a book for myself from the library. God bless the Internet and electronic resources.
I’m definitely going to miss my time at uni. Now seems like an opportune time to answer the five questions Sarni asked of me a while ago:
1. Do you think you foresee any problems reconciling your faith with your work as a lawyer?
I’ve never seen law as an inherently evil profession, even before I became a law student, and regardless of whether the lawyer is one working in a community legal centre, LegalAid, in a Fortune 500 company or a large commercial firm. It’s a popular view that lawyers are evil, and one that’s not going to change in a hurry, but there’s not much we can do about that except influence those closest to us to recognise otherwise.
As a corporate lawyer, I think I see the biggest danger is the lifestyle pitfall. The long hours and vaulting ambition that most people have can make work all consuming and there’s a danger of beginning to “define yourself” by the work you do. Not to say that this is a bad thing, but it’s not something I want. I always thought that it was strange that the types of people who get into these types of firms have a very well rounded lifestyles, yet for a few of them when they start working, life becomes very one dimensional. This takes away from everything else in life, faith especially.
2. Who would be the five people at your ideal dinner party (dead or living)?
Ideally, I would invite four close friends and the fifth would be one interesting personality. But if this question is really asking which five people I would like to have a chat with, I would say, off the top of my head… Bill Gates, Meg Whitman, Michael Kirby, Gene Roddenberry and Bill Clinton. I don’t like these listing type questions because I always think of something better later on, but oh well.
3. If you were to have children, would you consider being the stay at home dad? Under what circumstances?
Possibly, yes. The circumstances would have to be that firstly finances weren’t an issue, especially in terms of being able to provide kids with a good education and the opportunity to have opportunities. Secondly, that I still would have freedom for other pursuits – perhaps genuine part time work that I can do from home. I enjoy variety in life, and I think it’s possible to raise a family and still be involved in other things. Or perhaps I’m being incredibly naive, I dunno. I’m sure I’ll eventually learn one way or the other.
4. How would you describe the differences between IT and law?
I think that in an abstract sense both professions are more similar than different. Both have two aspects: one of them everyone is familiar with – problem solving when things go wrong. The second of them is when things need to get built and IT and law act to support and facilitate the building (eg, if you start up a business, you’ll need someone to provide you with the IT gear to manage it, and a lawyer to draft up the lease agreements and so on). The problem with IT is that it’s often a thankless profession. There’s never really a good reason for why things go wrong, even if it’s the user that stuffs things up (“you should have built it simpler!”). People get irate and for some reason take it out on IT. When you do fix things up because it’s fixing something that shouldn’t have gone wrong in the first place, “you can sod off back to your call centre now so I can get on with my work”. It’s trite but true that when IT is doing their job well, they are invisible. So much for job satisfaction. On the other hand, the other aspect of IT, the creative, building side of things, is fun but there doesn’t seem to be much of that around since the Dot Com Bust, and the Australian IT industry was never very entrepreneurial in that sense anyway.
Law is about problem solving as well, but because the problems/issues are often client-caused and involve a third party, you don’t start off on a bad footing with them – the “opposition” is the third party. And in many cases, there is no opposition – you’re simply facilitating a business deal, helping someone to write their will, or so on.
Apart from that, I don’t think they are all that different.
5. What are the most important things your parents have taught you?
Typically Asian, the first is the importance of education, and atypically Asian, the second is to do what I enjoy. Regarding the first, I don’t think education is important because of what you learn in 3-unit maths or at univeristy, or that piece of paper you get at the end of it all. You can be successful in life with neither. I think education is important because of the people you meet during it, which really broadens your worldview, and the opportunities that arise through it.
Regarding the second, it’s a simple concept, I’ve written about it before. I tutor a couple of first-year law students and in the first tutoring session, I asked them why they chose law. “Because I didn’t get the marks to get into med.” Ok, but why law? “Because I got the marks to get into law.” For people that intelligent, you’d think their reasoning would be a little more well-thought out. I was lucky in having the freedom to choose a course that I thought would be interesting, yet I know that for lots of other people, their parents would have made it unthinkable to select a course whose entrance cutoff was 6% lower than the UAI they received. In the end, I figured out for myself that IT perhaps wasn’t what I wanted, but I wouldn’t have chosen differently even if I could do it all again, because I was able to make the choice for myself. My parents gave me advice, but didn’t choose for me.
Seriously, the 12″ PowerBook G4 is excellent. It’s quite dense and heavy for its size, but it packs so much functionality in there that I don’t mind. The only gripes I have with its UI is the lack of a maximise button, and I still think the Windows start bar is better then the Dock. Window management in Windows is much better than in MacOS. I think it’s stupid how they only have one button for the trackpad. Their lack of easily accessible Page Up/Page Down buttons is also annoying and I had to remap the totally useless “enter” key next to the space bar to something more useful. Apart from that, it took me about two days to get comfortable with the idiosyncracies of MacOS and now navigating around is a breeze. The battery life is about 4 hours if you don’t run anything involving video.
It runs WoW pretty smoothly as well. There is nothing like hooking up to an online world from the comfort of a sofa without any wires in sight. When my exams finished, I went into my flatmate’s room where he was studying. I plonked myself on his bed and sat there playing WoW. He turned around.
“What are you doing lah??”
“What?! You bastard, lemme see?” He ran over. “That’s so cool man. Chee bai… now get the fuck out of my room.”
Watch your step, there may be lots of broken stuff about while I fix things up.
The Corps Act is kicking my ass, and travel planning is very distracting. Proper updates will resume when the stress levels subside.