Sunday, April 12, 2015

Lifelong Learning

After completing my Masters degree in 2011 I declared that I was done with formal book learnin' forever.  So strong in my conviction, I have instructed multiple people to shoot me dead on the spot if I ever start talking about doing a PhD.  I mean it when I say I'm done; I'd rather be dead than a student again!

But that doesn't mean I'm done with all types of learning, only the type that requires student loans and income-less years of my life.  If it's something I actually want to learn then I'm game!

Over the past year I've been doing quite a bit of voluntary learning, and have amassed quite a nifty skill set in the process.


...and sipping.  I can't classify this as "learning" so much as "boozing", which is my favorite activity.  If I happen to learn a few things throughout my bottle of wine I just consider that a bonus!

Paint & sip is apparently a thing in the USA, but it has only recently made its way to Australia and Brisbane in the form of Cork & Chroma.  The concept is simple: BYOB if you are so inclined, and they will give you all the equipment and instruction you need to paint a picture.  And you can take the picture home with you when you're finished!

I have that peacock picture on my wall, and this picture is hanging in my sister's house:

You legitimately don't need any skills or talent to do this.  The paintings are pretty simple, and the teacher walks you through it step by step.  Some people are pretty serious about the painting but I, for one, am not.

And still my paintings look legit!  I've done it 3 times, and fully intend to go back whenever I can.  It's super fun and I can tell my painting skills have gotten better over my 3 trips.


Chinese cooking, to be precise.

The Confucius Institute at the university where I work put on a cooking class for a group of staff at the swanky James Street Cooking School.  Confucius Institutes are non-profit institutions throughout the world affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education whose aim it is to promote Chinese language and culture.

Culture = food = this is where I come in.  You start with portioned out ingredients:

Then follow the printed instructions (ineptly, in the case of my group):

And enjoy the outcome!

It was a delicious evening, but a stressful one.  It was shocking how inept my group mates were, considering their high level jobs.  Read + follow instructions = not that goddamn difficult.

I did a coking class once before in Vietnam, and I don't know why I don't do more cooking classes when I travel.  It's entertainment and a meal, win-win!  Since eating exotic food is 75% of the reason why I travel I resolve to do more cooking classes from now on.

Making coffee

The world doesn't really know this, but Australia has better coffee than you do.  Wherever you are, no exceptions.  Even Italy.  Even Colombia.  Anywhere.

I thought I'd make use of this fortune in geography and learn how to make it for myself.

If memory serves it wasn't me who made that beautiful coffee, but my friend Laura who did the course with me.  It was a 2 part (single day) course, coffee making and latte art, the latter at which I sucked hardcore.  But I still got my qualification!

That's right, I am a certified barista, and am TAFE (technical and further education) qualified!  I could legit get a job as a barista, though I haven't made a single cup of joe in the year since I took the course.


This is another learning experience lubricated by sweet, sweet booze.  Wine is the usual pairing for cheese, but this was an event for Brewsvegas, an annual celebration of craft beer.  The event we attended was called Fromage with Fortitude, Fortitude being the brewer who supplied the rainbow of beers:

They taught us about the beer and cheese, but we were too busy rapidly consuming them to really listen. Kind of.

I'm pretty sure I didn't learn a single thing beyond which beers and cheeses I liked the best, which I guess wasn't too educational because I liked them all.

4 Wheel Driving

About 6 months ago Martin traded in our pretty little Lexus for a big honkin' Nissan Patrol.  As a recent convert from not driving to driving, let me be the first to tell you it's HUGE!  It's like driving a school bus, essentially.  Here's a few gratuitous shots of Martin's pride and joy:

Most of the boys (I hesitate to use the term men) in our group of friends got onto the 4x4 bandwagon, so I'm not the only female trying to figure out how to navigate this beast.  Driving such a behemoth requires some serious skills (and balls), so to do this in its natural habitat (the bush) you really should know what you're doing.  My friend Pia and I signed up for a ladies only 4WDriving course to learn the ins and outs of how to drive our ridiculously large, gas guzzling vehicles.  We liked the idea of learning what we're doing without the presence of men, especially our men.

First we learned the basic foundation of, like, how cars work:  

Then we got behind the wheel and practiced some maneuvers:

And we navigated some obstacles:

I even got to "recover" another vehicle, which is 4WD-speak for yanking someone free when they've gotten themselves stuck.  Note the strap connecting me from the pretend-stuck car:

If you're driving a Patrol chances are in a natural setting you'll be doing the recovering, not be the one who's stuck.  

The pictures do not do justice to the crazy hills we drove up and down, so I won't even post them.  But believe me when I say they were pretty damn steep!  

We even looked under the hood and pretended to know what the hell we were doing:

I learned a hell of a lot and want both Martin and I to take the beach driving course, because realistically that is where we'll be doing most of our off roading.  I wish they did a city-driving-in-a-huge-ass-vehicle course because I would totally take it!  Perhaps then I could have avoided "the incident" with the concrete pillar we park next to.  Oopsy daisy!     

I figure if the university sector ever goes belly up I've got a backup career to fall back on, I can become a cheese monger barista painter chef professional 4x4 driver!

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