Dog Fight

When I put X down this evening, I couldn’t find his Teddy Bear, so I gave him a stuffed fox (Mr Fox) and golden retriever (Mavis) instead. I didn’t know this at the time, but apparently Mr Fox and Mavis aren’t on speaking terms. There is a lot of barking coming from down the hall.

And now I have to go break up a dog fight.



There’s a house not far from ours that likes to feed the local cockatiel population. Occasionally we get lucky and pass by right as the owner is putting out fruit for the birds. What you see in this pic is about half the number of birds that come to feast on plates of oranges and mangoes. The rest were frightened away by a noisy toddler and two clumsy photographers.




Last weekend we attended a lovely ceremony at the Curzon Hall in Sydney. A friend of mine from work was having celebrating his third of three weddings to his new bride.

The second was a traditional Hindi wedding, I think in Indonesia, and the first was a legal ceremony so that it would be easy to sort out the legalities of all later ceremonies.

This ceremony was for the Grooms friends and family, most of whom were local to Australia. A few were from overseas – at least one was known to have spent more time travelling than being in Australia.

The wedding was absolutely lovely, and everything a wedding should be. It was held outdoors, and was pretty quick and concise. A few confessions of love, some comments to the audience and two very loud, very joyous (and in our case, very out of tune) songs.

Xavier took a few photos of his favourite bits. Here’s just a sampling. In actuality there are about ten photos of his finger, and at least six of that fellows ear.


After the ceremony there was time for photos, followed by light food and drink while the guests got a chance to mingle. Xavier used this time to make friends with a nice little girl and her mom, who treated us both to a banana from the boot of her car.

Definitely a top moment for me was the cracking of the croquembouche, a tower made of profiteroles, which is then covered in spun sugar and sometimes chocolate. Yum!!

Instead of gracefully slicing a piece of wedding cake, you are handed a gnome sized truncheon which you then use to hack away at the confectionary construction until a profiterole pops off. It’s fun and delicious! What’s not to love?

This is our second wedding this year, and our third since arriving in Australia. Weddings are always so much fun, and I’m forever grateful of the people who let us take part in their special day.

My dentist CNC’d me a tooth

About two years back I went to the dentist and he told me I needed a filling. I’m a terrible coward when it comes to needles so I delays and delayed until I couldn’t any longer (my wife started making my appointments). So last week I popped in to see a man about a tooth.

This was the coolest appointment that I’ve ever been to. Even the parts that were meant to be bad weren’t too bad; he did a really great job. But the highlight came after the drilling when he asked me how I wanted to fill my tooth.

Option 1: Traditional filling. Pretty cheap; he injects a paste into the hole and hardens it with his magic ray gun. The filling will hold for 2-5 years, and when it breaks down its likely additional decay will set in beneath the filling, requiring deeper drilling (read: root canal).

Option 2: Ceramic Inlay. Pretty expensive. He takes a 3d photo of my tooth, and a computer models what it would look like if it were whole. Then, two tiny robot arms cut a piece of ceramic down to size until it fits the hole in my tooth exactly. Bit of glue and voila. Average life is about ten years, and a failure is unlikely to have any bad effects.

He had me at tiny robot arms. The part about not needing a root canal was pretty good too.

It was seriously expensive, but I’m blessed with a good dental plan. I might as we’ll take advantage of it.

The best part of this whole thing is that he let me stick around and watch the CNC machine cut the tooth to size.


The Dummy Fairy

Xavier has reached a new milestone!
He’s now gone 10 days without a soother. And, surprisingly few tears.

We got lucky on this one.

We took him into the dentist two tuesday’s ago, and the hygienist asked us if he was still using a soother. While examining our shoes, we admitted that he was, and so the hygienist went on to show us how the shape of his teeth were changing. Uncool. So, quick gut check and we decided to toss the dummy.

The hygienist was kind enough to play Bad Cop for us. He explained to Xavier how he’s a big boy and how he’d looked in his mouth and found that he didn’t need a soother anymore. He asked him if he’d like to give up the soother and Xavier (surprisingly) obliged. I don’t really know if he knew it was for keeps at that point. Then the hygienist high fives him and brushed Xavier’s teeth with an electric toothbrush. That last part was the highlight of the trip, and Xavier told us all about it over the next week.

That night, when we went home, we told Xavier that the Tooth Fairy had heard all about what happened at the dentist (Xavier took this opportunity to explain electric toothbrushes to us) and was very proud of Xavier. Because he was a big boy, she was going to leave him a gift over night.

“No honey, remember you gave it to the dentist…”
“…uh, yeah. So because you’re a big boy, you can sleep without a soother and you’ll get a present. Do you want a present?”

And that was that.

In the morning he found a new pack of lego and a couple of chocolates (to keep the fairy in business). He again asked for his soother, but having the box of lego, and an awesome story about a dentist and a fairy, staved off most of the tears.

Two weeks later he’s still going strong. He asks for his soother around nap time or when he hurts himself, but then he remembers the fairy (or maybe just the toothbrush) and seems to get over it.

Original image from

Kiwi Journey 2014 Edition

I spent four days this past week traveling through Middle Zealand. It was a crazy times work trip, focussed on recruiting new talent. We did the same trip last year as a family, but did it quite differently. Last year we spent two weeks driving from Queenstown to Auckland, stopping at several small and large cities along the way. This year was the whirlwind version where we landed, went to work, ate, slept, woke, ate, worked, ate, worked, ate, slept, flew, worked, ate, worked, ate, slept, flew back home. But it was still amazing.

As part of our trip we organize talks for young women in STEM programs. The rate of enrollment of women in these fields is quite low, like 5-10%, so a lot of the ladies feel isolated or ‘weird’ or that they don’t fit in. As part of our trip, we organize a three hour workshop to talk about what it’s like to be a woman in tech, to meet other ladies in your faculty, and to get some extra tips and encouragement about their work prospects. Chatting with the attendees is always mega rewarding. You get to meet women who were about to drop out or change programs and have decided to stay in because they made a friend. Or people who met with us last year and are pumped to tell us how well their last year of school has gone, or the super cool project they are working on.

The stats around the gender divide in STEM careers are amazing. Many of them are simply baffling to me when I look at them from a more removed or academic stance, but they make a lot more sense when you meet the people who say these things. One young lady told the group that she struggled to enroll because her primary motivation for wanting to become an Engineer was that she wanted to be Tony Stark. She had a hard time saying that out loud to her family. Eventually, she did enroll and when the rest of her extended family found out, she got a call from her Grandma who wanted to know what was wrong. To me, wanting to be Iron Man seems like a great reason to enroll in engineering; maybe even Top 5 (after wanting to be Batman of course) but meeting her, and listening to her talk, it’s just not a valid reason for everyone.

At one of these talks I also bumped into a friend of a friend, of all the weird places to meet someone. A woman put her hand up at one of the events to tell us how she felt like an outsider even in a room filled with female engineers because she was studying Music  Engineering. Most people had no idea what that meant, which seemed to validate her point, so I went up to chat during the break to let her know that she wasn’t alone. I took some courses in that area in school, and studied with Professor so-and-so. Turns out, her advisor also studied with So-and-so, further, she had done her masters with a long time friend of Sarah’s (and mine) in California. We chatted for a long time, and eventually I was able to introduce her to some other people on campus who are interested in collaborating on some projects. Small world.

Finally, the other thing I did while abroad was give another lecture at a technical college on the south island. Two years running now I’ve worried about what to present, or what might be interesting. This year, the instructor asked me to just walk the students through a project that I’d done. “How boring!” I thought, and yet, the room was full and the crowd seemed to enjoy themselves. I even got an invite to speak again in October, which I will probably follow up on.

Fitzroy St

We are visiting Melbourne this week. From Syfney, I’ve always thought of it as Australia’s Vancouver (as opposed to Australia’s Toronto, where we live).

By chance we ended up in St Kilda. A part of town that two different friends had recommended. One for food, and the other for the neighborhood. So far, we haven’t really left Fitzroy St.

A buddy at work recommended checking out Golden Fields, which turned out to be really close to our hotel. This was our first stop after checking in, and we had a lovely dinner of Lobster Rolls, pulled pork San bao, shiitake dumplings (it was dumpling Tuesday) and a Peanut Butter parfait with salted caramel sauce and chocolate mousse (divine!).

The next morning we left in search of the famous St Kilda penguins. This small colony of penguins made their home just next to a pier at the end of Fitzroy forty years ago. They are a wild colony, but live in the city, conveniently located next to several posh fish and chip shops.

On the way to the beach we stopped in at a cafe. Melbourne, we’d been told, is the way place to hit up random cafés. This was no let down. Our two coffees and a babycino for Xavier, came with a delicious cherry-choco-coco-walnut slice that disappeared almost before I could snap a pic.


You miss me


For a few weeks before leaving France, a friend of mine made a habit of saying “When you are gone, you miss me. You miss me.”

For the longest time, I interpreted that as “When you have left France, you will miss me.”

It was nearly two months after arriving in Australia that I finally understood him to be saying “When you are gone, I will miss you.”

First Day of School!

It’s Xavier’s first day of “School” today (really, Daycare).
We dropped him off with his little lunch pail and back pack. We tried telling him that we’d be near by and would pick him up later in the day, but he was already playing with the cars in the sand pit by that point.
Sarah’s catching up on some rest, and splitting her time between the masseuse, the pub, and a much needed nap.



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