Saturday, October 10, 2015

Dumplings set the standard

A good friend of mine once said something on the lines that a sign of a good restaurant is the quality of their dumplings so when we went to Wang’s Treasure House we thought we’d found treasure, no joke!

After my Pal and I got our nails done at a local nail place we moved on to a Yum Cha place nearby.

So after waiting for a little while we scored a large table for three and as we communed and debated the week in politics (Just so you know, we’re political geeks and somehow it always creeps into our conversations) we developed a lunch strategy.

Although this was after we grabbed some random stuff off the trolley which we later regretted but that is all part of the Yum Cha experience.

The Prawn Dumplings were divine with their generous serve of prawns and chives. The chicken and corn dumplings were unexpectedly nice and flavoursome.

Part of our strategy was to go for the duck which we loved. The skin was crispy and the flesh was tender.

The only down side to our experience is the wired looks we got from the staff which was slightly disconcerting.

Be warned Wang’s Treasure House does get super busy so be prepared to wait for a table, especially during peak periods. 

The Wang's Treasure House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Special school failed to prepare for a world worthy to be part of

Even though I always love learning, I found school very tedious. I somehow knew that there was more to learn that the teachers were letting on.

When it was time to leave I knew that the world was waiting to be explored. I knew that with a good quality education and training I could have the capacity to take it on and lead an exciting life while working some cool job to support my lifestyle.

But looking back at my school days I don’t feel it prepared me for the complex world that I was to enter when I turned 18.

Let me describe it for you!

In the 1980s it was trendy to try and “mainstream” disabled people into their local community. So when I got to high school (after attending a local mainstream primary school) they thought that because I had a disability I could do with “the extra support”.

But in reality there was just this building that referred to as the “Resource Centre” or informally just the “Unit” in this rough comprehensive/secondary modern school. 

I always found it a little amusing considering there were no resources or support except 4 walls and a roof in which to shelter and hide from the world and no extra development to ensure that we could work to our capacity and be strong interdependent people. 

The reason why I think that they failed was that they had a real opportunity to allow us to develop the confidence and skills to fully participate in society, hold down jobs, have families and participate in society in the same ways as everyone else.     

There was this real tyranny of low expectations that assumed that someone’s inability to, for example, walk or see meant that they were unable to be successful in their studies or work. In my case, it was like my weak left side defined my entire ability.

The system didn’t have very high expectations of us other than we would leave school then do a spot of life skills training before being on welfare.

They infantilised us and failed to provide an empowering experience that gave us the skills to be successful in the post-school environment. It was like they perpetuated a paradigm in which we moulded to be passive, complement and dependant. 

The outside world is often hostile to those who are different and individuals with disabilities often have to endure an extra disablement of people’s negative perceptions of us.         

So not only would it have been good to develop the skills and confidence to thrive within the mainstream community but also to educate the general school population about being tolerant and being inclusive.

I guess kids are naturally intolerant and insensitive but with a greater number of disabled kids at the school it would have been a great opportunity to educate kids on the value of diversity.

Also, knowing that bullies at school often (but not always) grow up to be bullies in the workplace, learning how to handle such people as well as developing reliance should have been a key part of our education.

Thankfully the whole establishment has now closed down and hopefully society has moved on to be more inclusive and to provide disabled kids a more empowering education that sets them up for the rest of their lives.

I hope that that there isn’t an automatic assumption that people with disabilities can’t be successful in education/training and can’t participate in the mainstream workforce.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Leadership course leads to mini identity crisis

It has been a few months since I finished a course that aimed to develop leadership skills in people with disabilities and like most things it has got me thinking. I must admit that I actually found participating confronting.

Not that the course was bad (it was fantastic in so many ways) but for the first time since I had left my special school in the UK I had been in contact with disabled people that were not patients in the hospital that I work in.   

This made me think of my identity and my world view.

It is not that I am in denial because I don’t think I am. I am reminded of it every time I see my parents play music together that I haven’t been blessed with the two functional hands needed to be able to play a violin or cello.

I am also reminded of it when I trip over my own feet or an uneven pavement, often in front of everyone or when I’m told I can’t do something by a well meaning individual who thinks that I can’t or shouldn’t be doing something.  Oh and the self doubt……..     

But I have never been one to let having a disability define me as an individual.

I just don’t see my life that way or the world from that prospective.

When I chat with others what comes up first is my love of travelling, books, music, coffee but never “oh and by the way….” as usually the conversation has moved forward and it just never seems relevant.

Maybe growing up I felt that being disabled had a negative vibe associated with it which made me ashamed of identifying as such.

It was as if the mantra of my childhood was ‘pretend to be normal’ and I spent my late teens and twenties manically trying to prove to others (but probably more to myself) that I was more than my physical imperfections.  

But it was such a tough act to keep up.

Now I have made peace with the body I’ve got to focus on what works and chosen to work to capacity as life is too short to be limited by the restraints laid down by others.       

I am so glad that I did this LeadAbility course as it got me thinking about so much. The good thing about life is that you never stop learning about yourself and the world that you live in. Everything is always changing and the more people you meet, the more you’re ideas are challenged; that is what makes life so interesting!  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Taylor’s Art and Coffee House the best place to have brunch with the besties

Today was beautiful! The weather was perfect with not a cloud in the sky and not too hot. To make the best of this lovely day, some of my favourite people and I piled into a car and drove to the Swan Valley for a leisurely brunch.

The driver of my posse had decided that she wanted to take us to Taylor’s Art and Coffee House as she had been raving about it. We had made a booking and were asked if we wanted to sit inside or out and, since it was so beautiful and not too hot, we chose to sit among the Australian Gum Trees.

As the waiter passed around the menus he told us about the specials, which sounded lovely. So lovely that two of us whet for the same thing which was Egg Fabulosa which was truly fabulous, trust me! With Salmon, poached eggs (done to perfection) and spinach, it was perfection on a plate.

My friend had a dish that consisted of roast tomato, egg, fresh dill and garlic melange. She was very happy with her breakfast.

The coffee was slightly disappointing and my posse thought that it was a little burnt/bitter/sour but never mind, the food was good.

There is so much to love about Taylors. I love the good food, I love the relaxed vibe and I love the café dog that potters around wanting to be stroked.  We loved the vintage cloth and kitchenware shop nearby which had so much good stuff.

Taylors is so nice and I’ll be back again soon I am sure.

Taylors Art & Coffee House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Lunch with the suits

King Street is Perth’s swankiest street but it also has a special place in my heart. Until a couple of years ago, King Street Café was the iconic café on the strip and it was the place that started my coffee obsession.

Since it now closed, I wanted to check out a La Veen which has been on King Street for a few years now.

The good news is that they do good coffee but since it is in Perth’s CBD it attracts lots of office workers but also the odd creative.

They have a good range of cakes and their Carrot Cake looked amazing. As it was lunch time, I went for Potato Rosti with a potato patty, poached eggs, smoked salmon and avocado. It was perfectly presented and very appetising. The coffee was well made and while being full of flavour, was not too overpowering.

La Veen is a nice little café that has great coffee and good quality food. The staff are friendly and efficient which make lunch at La Veen a perfect experience.

Click to add a blog post for La Veen Coffee & Kitchen on Zomato 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Getting the concept of Structure and Agency is a good way of understanding people better

Recently I read Emer O’Toole’s Girls will be Girls and one aspect of the book that made me think was the concept of structure and agency.

Understanding structure and agency are a good way of appreciating how people make choices and navigate the society in which they live. Individuals are said to have agency and structure refers to the society or culture in which they operate.  

What makes structure and agency so interesting is that there is a conflict in how much power structure has in a person’s ability to make decisions.

As Emer O’Toole argues, ‘the first thing to know about structure and agency debate is that it is always political. If you believe evangelically in agency that – that the individual is entirely free to choose whatever she [sic] wants to do –then you’re unlikely to see the social factors that influence a person’s action…On the other hand, if you believe devoutly in structure – that an individual’s actions are always the product her [sic] social situations – you can fail to recognise and honour people’s achievements’.

I had obviously been vaguely been aware of it as a concept but it wasn’t until I read Girls will be Girls that I understood it better. As with every new concept I discover, I go around analysing everything around me through the prism of structure and agency.

So when I started reading Freedom Fallacy – The limits of Liberal Feminism, I couldn’t help but think about structure and agency. This is quite dense collection of essays that questions the notion that gender equality has been achieved and women are solely reasonable to connect with the opportunities.  As Miranda Kiraly and Meagan Tyler argue, ‘This collection aims to challenge the limits of key liberal feminist concepts and to critique the idea that it is possible to find freedom simply by exercising ‘choice’ in a world in which women, as a class, are still not considered to be  of fully human worth to men’.
Put simply, society’s structure prevents women to have an equal choice as they are not considered to have comparable worth to men.
Structure vs. agency in a critique of Naomi Wolf ‘The Beauty Myth’

Most feminists have heard of this seminal work and while I won’t go into the details I will note that Wolf argued that women are expected to adhere to strict rules in regards to their appearance. These rules disempower women rather than liberate them. She argues that the structure is the problem and it is up to women to use their agency to challenge this myth.  

In her essay, Natalie Jovanovski takes the view that ‘when it comes to providing solutions and potential ways forward, Wolf’s work, disappointingly, falls back on a kind of unhelpful, individualism that verges on blaming women for their own situation…. It also represents a missed opportunity, as it ignores the possibility of collective action, agitating for women’s liberation, and an end to the patriarchy, as ways forward for helping women to develop healthier relationships with their bodies’.

It show how complex the relationship between structure and agency. In many ways culture is pervasive and doesn’t provide individuals with many authentic choices.

What Wolf’s book does as well as those of other writers is that they acknowledge the limited agency of individuals but fail often unite them to challenge the structure in order to increase their own agency. It is often easier to acknowledge a problem than to create a new path.                     

Do Mail Order Brides have a choice?

In the Freedom Fallacy, Kaye Quek writes a very interesting essay that looks at how agency Mail Order Brides possess.

We have all hard about Mail Order Brides and there is a debate regarding how much choice these ladies have in deciding to move to another country to marry an unknown man. Is it something that they genuinely want or are they making the decision for other reasons?

Kaye Quek argues that ‘far from being based on equal partnership or reciprocity of care, the Mail Order Bride Industry promotes and facilitates a particular kind of marriage that is characterised by sexual, racial and class inequalities between the men and women it involves’.

Some people argue that they are in complete control and the choice to enter into such an arrangement is done so with their eyes wide open and their complete consent.

However, Quek doesn’t agree with that attitude and believes that ‘far from being based on an equal partnership or reciprocity of care, the Mail Order Bride industry promotes and facilitates a particular kind of marriage that is characterised by sexual, racial and class inequalities between the men and women’.

I can see her point, since these marriages are organised by companies that operate on a basis that men pay to be linked up with a lady (that they have chosen often from a website, catalogue or speed dating event) who lives in a developing country.

Coming from a position of economic hardship and to be almost purchased, it is easy to see how such a marriage that could be what Quek considers unequal and which ‘seeks to advance the interests of men while actively minimising women’s ability to exercise agency and resistance’. I    

Why read this book?                

I will always find structure and agency riveting and this book continued to fuel my interest.

While it is super academic and very dense, it is very interesting and has opened my eyes to a lot of things. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Precinct’s a good place to do Sunday Brunch

The Precinct is a famous Victoria Park restaurant. It is funky cafe that does breakfast as well as doubles up as a wine bar. It has an extensive wine list and lunch/dinner menu but that’s not why we were there.  

I’ve been there several times and have always loved their food. I have always found their staff to be keen, attentive and knowledgeable.

Today, we went for breakfast. It was busy but not overly so and we were shown to a table straight away.    

We ordered drinks while we chose what we were going to eat. My friend picked the Avocado Smash which had a generous serving of avo. The bacon was very smoky, tasty and I would highly recommend it.

I chose the slow cooked eggs on sourdough bread with an Italian sausage. It was beautifully presented and sausage was nice. The locally sourced eggs (from Baldivis) were a bonus as too was the in-house produced sausage.

My Long Mac (topped up) was lovely.

The Precinct is a great place to visit regardless of the time of day. 

Click to add a blog post for The Precinct on Zomato  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lunch with Felix

Felix and Co is one of my favourites on the Hampton Road strip.

I have been here several times and have always found the coffee to be excellent. They have several different roasts on offer which they rotate. Felix and Co also sell beans for you to take home which is a great way of enjoying good coffee at home as well as continuing to support local businesses.

Today I had an appointment that I really wasn’t looking forward to so I decided to do lunch at Felix to ease the pain.

I chose “The Vego” toastie from their rather limited menu (which I assume is because of their small kitchen) and I added some ham to my sandwich. Since I have some Swiss heritage I was very excited about the Gruyere cheese that was going to be alongside the Antipesto mix, Siracho sauce and BBQ mushrooms.

I wasn’t disappointed(although the sourdough would have added a little extra quality)and none of the flavours were too overpowering.

While the menu isn’t extensive, the pastries at Felix’s are lovely. The Friand was beautiful, it was moist and fluffy.

I look forward to many more great cups of coffee from Felix and Co.

Click to add a blog post for Felix & Co. Specialty Coffee on Zomato 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Lunch in East Village

Before you start thinking that I’ve hit the jackpot and ran away to New York City, East Village is one of the many new restaurants opening in Perth.

East Village is located above Perth Underground station in the 140 Murray St complex. Much has been made of this area over the past few days as there have been many new places and is well worth a visit if you haven’t checked it out recently.

It has been a bit of a strange week so I was keen to chill a little and catch up on a book while enjoying a leisurely Saturday brunch.

It was quick to get a table here at the East Village and the staff were quick to give me a menu and take my coffee order (I know what I want J). It came out first and it was perfect temperature.  

Their menu has the whole range of American food as well as an American take on Italian and Aussie favourites such as pizza and an Avocado Smash.

I love Avocado so I went straight for an Avocado and Fetta Smash that also included lots of tomato. It wasn’t long before it appeared and the avo Smash was a generous size with slightly grilled fetta, avocado (obviously) and tomato in equal proportions.      

East Village’s décor could be described as Industrial Chic. With its booth, lighting and general set up makes it’s cool interior is impressive and I will defiantly be back to try more of the East Village.   

Click to add a blog post for East Village on Zomato 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Girls will be Girls but it’s all an act

We’re all born naked and the rest is drag


Emer O’Toole’s book Girls will be Girls has to be one of the best books on gender issues that I’ve read this year. Her discussion on how people perform their gender has a strong theoretical grounding while being funny and relevant.

Emer’s premise is that being male or female is a performance and how the body is ‘used to define and socialise us’. She puts the things that we do all the time under a microscope to analyse them in order to understand what she calls “Performativity”.

 It is a testament of how society’s norms and double standards govern every part of our lives right down to the hair on our various parts of our body, but more of that later.

Gender as performance

While much of this book is based on the theories of American Philosopher Judith Butler, she begins by referring to work by Lise Eliot and Cordelia Fine on the neuroscience of gender. She doesn’t spend much time on the neurology of gender but Emer concludes that the plasticity of the brain and nurture allows people to transcend any slight differences between the brains of men and women. As Simone de Beauvoir once said, ‘one is not born, but, rather, becomes woman’.     

From the day we’re born and the doctor declares ‘it’s a girl or it’s a boy’, our body influences who we are. It influences how we are expected to dress, behave, interact with others as well as have our hair. Whether we are male or female, the choice of subjects at school and the division of labour in the home are impacted.  As Emer argues ‘our bodies are coded and costumed to turn us into easily identifiable men and women, creating artificial divisions in society and limiting the identities that people of any gender feel confident performing’.

As Emer continues to discuss, all is well as long as we continue to play the parts assigned to us by our gender but trouble starts when we deviate from this script. Society has many punitive measures to inflict on those who digress from the expected social norms.

As the great Judith Butler argues, ‘gender is a performance with clearly punitive consequences….. we regularly punish those who fail to do their gender right’.

You can see examples of this everywhere ranging from the guilt trip that society dumps on mothers who go back to work to men who choose to put family before their careers. But these are two examples, there are many things that we might lose privilege for happen on a micro-personal level.

Emer is famous as being the girl who challenged the cultural narrative and not shaving for a whole 18 months.   

The politics of hair

I’ve often wondered about the difference in gender expectations surrounding body hair and how opposite the cultural norms.

Emer dedicates a whole chapter on the relationship that society has with women’s body hair. Her argument looks at what is considered feminine and response to something that is natural.

Both men and women have hair but for women is considered unhygienic and also something to be ashamed of. Emer points out that ‘Body hair seems to be a potent symbol of the way in which we teach girl children that the changes their bodies go through at puberty are shameful’.

It seems really odd to think that something that everybody in society has is considered unhygienic for half the population and normal for the other. To make it worse, hair removal for women has turned into big business as women spend hundreds of dollars and hours to remain hair free.            

Emer’s experience was interesting and a lot tougher than she thought. She felt self conscious and adjusted her wardrobe to cover the ‘offending areas’. She believes that ‘hairless females look better is a culturally conditioned one. We think that bald female legs equal beautiful female legs because we’re not used to seeing beautiful women with leg hair’. Until it changes, I will continue to participate in hair removal and respect Emer for doing what I am not brave enough to do

Why read this book?

This blog post has just touched the surface of what Emer O’Toole discusses in Girls will be Girls. I loved her discussion on Agency vs. Structure and it helped me to understand how people make choices and the power that the social structures have on all of us.

Emer is super smart and is well equipped to put gender under the microscope in ways that is effective and witty.            

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Perfect Masala at Bengal Indian

I’ve often past this Indian restaurant and, since I love Indian food, I have always wanted to try it.

From the outside Bengal Indian looks very ordinary but once inside the well presented tables, with their table cloths lifts the standard a little and saves it from being your usual ‘cheap and cheerful’ eatery.

My order was taken from the waiter who was relaxed and easy going but almost too much so.   

I chose the Beef Masala which was cooked perfectly; the beef was tender and the capsicum was soft. I am a great fan of coriander loved how you could taste it without feeling it was over powering the other spices.

The Naan was crisp, fresh and perfect in every way.

Bengal Indian is a nice place that is slightly out of Fremantle and not a bad place to go if you want somewhere quiet and authentic.

Click to add a blog post for Bengal Indian Restaurant on Zomato 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Good leadership is hard but possible

Life has sent me several things that have recently made me think about leadership and what it means to be an effective leader.

I’ve been wanting to do more in my community so I’ve applied to do a leadership programme. As I prepared for the interview, it made me think of the concept of leadership that the programme was built on was different from the kind of leadership that I learnt about as part of my master’s degree.

The required readings of my Leadership unit focus on the more traditional sort of leadership, the kind that you assume involves running an institution or organisation. This unit spoke about different sources of power such as Reward, Coercive and Legitimate power which are the kind of power that I’ve often seen at work.

Most often the Coercive and Legitimate type is used to make sure the wheels of the team go round and everything runs smoothly, so the theory goes. My old text book defines Coercive Power as the ‘capacity to punish or withhold positive outcomes as a way of influencing other people’ and Legitimate power as the ‘capacity to influence other people by virtue of formal authority, or the rights of office’.

But as you can imagine these are the basic tools that new mangers refer to in attempt to ‘lead’ their teams but we all know that it take more than coercion and a job title to get respect from those below you.

I must admit that effectively leading a team at work has to be one of the hardest jobs around as there is a real skill to it. But either you’re good with people or you’re not! I am always surprised when people who have weak emotional intelligence put their hands for such positions of power. It leads to a toxic environment that brings the worst in people and a miserable place to be.

I am sure that many of you have had jobs that were tough or dull but because the manager was good and the other people were cool you didn’t mind.   

What makes it hard for everyone (including the ‘leader’) is when those who aren’t gifted with good people skills are so often promoted beyond their interpersonal skill level. The effect is that people become unmotivated and disengaged but somehow this is ignored by those who hire and fire. It seems that the only requirement for promotion to these roles is having hubristic tenancies. 

One of the questions that I had at the interview for this leadership programme was to describe a leader at work that I admired. The person that I immediately thought had a senior position but isn’t a leader of a team but because she had great skills in this area I used her as an example. She is supportive, respectful and doesn’t purposely go out to shame and humiliate. She also understands the tough work environment as well as has the ability to bring out the best in people and to motivate staff.  

But don’t fear people!

Leadership is more than just telling people to pull their socks up.

It seems that the whole notion of leadership has evolved overtime from the ‘Boss’ at work or in the home to include advocacy on behalf of those whose voice isn’t loud enough to be heard.

One man who ran a youth development camp I went on when I was at uni describes leadership as “action that makes the world I touch a better place”. As you can see it is a general definition and could include anyone that stands up for minority groups or for a colleague that is being bullied.

I hate to be Captain Cliché but “I want to be the change I want to see in the world” and I am to improve the lives of other people with disabilities.  

This is the kind of leadership I that I want to get involved with.

I have no interest in being a manager or leader in the work environment but to do want to do this program so I can learn how to advocate for others and make a difference in the community. I look forward to starting and developing the skills to improve the lives of others who aren’t so fortunate.   


Campling. J., Poole. D., Wiesner. R., Ang. E.S., Chan. B., Tan. WL., and Schermerhorn. J.R. (2008) Management (3rd Asia-Pacific edition) (Brisbane, Qld: Wiley Publishing Company)

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