Where’s your local experience?

We had an amazing Sydney testers discussion group today on sharing stories around our job hunting experiences. One comment that came up was on local experience and I wanted to elaborate a little more on it.

I would say there are atleast two ideas behind why someone would care about local experience. Unconscious bias and culture fit. I have helped with interviewing some people in my last company so I have some insights to share. I would say that unfortunately there is some bias against people who don’t have English as their first language. People will use the rationale of poor culture fit to justify their unconscious bias.

I would say that unfortunately in Australia we have a bias against people from India, the massive call centre outsourcing efforts have not left us with great impressions. So there is an association with strong accents and having many issues with communication. Someone who’s applying for a job here with an Indian background just has a few extra hurdles to overcome, it’s not really fair but by asking for local experience we can justify to ourselves that you wouldn’t be a good cultural fit. We also imagine that you might be coming from a larger hirachical corporate structure, where there is a lack of innovation/self motivation. We imagine that if you did have an issue with your boss here you wouldn’t let anyone know about it because that’s what we understand about your culture.

Cheats ricotta/paneer

You can make fresh ricotta* (or paneer) cheese from powdered milk. It’s pretty amazing and very easy. You can have fresh cheese in 5 minutes.

You will need:

Milk powder

Boiling water

Acid (up to a few tablespoons depending on strength) (e.g. citric acid, lemon juice, vinegar)

Cheese cloth/fabric cloth for straining cheese (I reckon a blue chux cloth would also work)

Optional:

Food thermometer

Use a 1:2 ratio of milk powder to boiling water. Boiling water helps quicken the process. E.g. if a recipe calls for 5 cups of milk to make Chena for a rasgulla recipe, I used 2 and 1/2 cups of powdered milk to 5 cups of boiling water. I also used 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid dissolved in 2 tablespoons of boiling water for this recipe.

Combine water and milk powder on a stove top set to medium heat. If it’s a little lumpy that’s ok, the stirring in the next step should help smooth it out.

stir the mixture until it gets to 95 degrees Celsius, or until it’s just boiling if you don’t have a thermometer

Add the acid

Stir and watch the milk seperate into curds and whey, you are now just like little miss Muffet

Poor mixture into your cloth over a bowl/container

Squeeze the cloth to get out extra fluid (this will be hot, be careful. You can cool it down by running it under cold water)

Optional: let it hang for 30 minutes

Voilà, you now have cheese and it took about 5 minutes to make.

*Technically it’s not ricotta as ricotta means twice cooked and it’s actually made from the left over whey from making other cheeses but I won’t tell if you don’t.

If the thought of making cheese is still a little daunting, I actually started with a mad Millie italian cheese making kit. This kit comes with all you need to start making cheese in your own kitchen, the ricotta/Mascarpone recipes are pretty similar. One uses milk and the other uses cream and Mascarpone takes a little longer to seperate.

You can reuse the left over whey as well, I usually don’t but a quick Google search will turn up many results from beauty therapy to gardening.

Some presentations on Testing

I’ve recently started speaking at conferences, here are some of the recordings:

Public speaking is hard, I still get nervous about it. However it can be enjoyable and I look forward to speaking more. I used keynote for the first deck and canva/keynote for the second deck.

Weight loss, where does that weight go?

Have you ever wondered when we lose weight, where does it go? Turning it into energy is the common preconception but chemistry doesn’t work that way, you can’t create energy from mass (easily). Have a read through this article by science alert.

Turns out we breathe out most of our weight as Carbon Dioxide(CO2). This is probably why high intensity cardio vascular exercise is encouraged for weight loss, you breathe more and therefore expel more carbon. If you are weighing yourself as an indicator of weight loss, it’s generally recommended to weigh yourself at the same time of day under roughly the same conditions. For example, I weight myself in the morning, after I’ve gone to the toilet and just before I jump into the shower (so I’m naked). Have you ever weighed yourself during the day and observed the fluctuations? Or if you are female, have noticed a few kilo’s creep on just before that time of month? Our weight varies, alot.

We breathe in oxygen and out comes CO2, where does that carbon come from? Nearly everything we eat is based on carbon. CARBoyhydrates get their name from CARBon. Sugars are simple, short chained and are easy for us to turn into fuel for our bodies to do things with, that’s why we think they are tasty. Alcohol is like a sugar but with an alcohol molecule added to the end of it. Fat’s are more complicated but still based on carbon chains just linked together a little differently. Proteins are even more complicated (your DNA helps create proteins and that’s pretty complicated stuff). The field of science that is based on the study of carbon based chemistry is called organic chemistry and we aren’t just talking about organic fruit and veg here either. Plastics and fuel for your car also fall under organic chemistry.

Trees consume CO2, so by losing weight you are encouraging trees to grow. Fancy that.

Salts are an example of chemicals we consume that aren’t based on carbon and they are useful for many other things in your body; from you heart pumping to your nerve’s transmitting pain signals. Think; anything electrical needs salt. While I’m on the subject of salt, there is actually no conclusive scientific information that too much salt is bad for you, don’t believe me? watch this.

People tend to weigh less in the morning then at night time. This means most of your weight loss happens when you are sleeping. What’s happening when you sleep? Your body is repairing itself. In the brain there is a build of chemicals during they day that can be toxic if they aren’t cleared out of the system on a regular basis. Listen to Tell me something I don’t know from 22:41 to listen from a sleep doctor about this.

When you are sleeping, it’s like your body does a stocktake of it self. It goes, “hmm, how much fuel do I need to do stuff with?”. If you have consumed excess fuel, your body is going to store it for later. If you haven’t consumed enough fuel, you body will breakdown fuel from storage, use it and breathe it out. It feels like there is a preference to store fuel, evolutionarily speaking this is easy for us to do and it has helped us survive as a species. Our bodies have many different tactics it can deploy to ensure survival. For example, starvation mode is a state your body can go into to preserve energy. E.g. with my recent rapid weight loss from surgery my menstrual cycle was out of whack. It’s like my body went, “CRISIS, CRISIS, we are in starvation mode, we do not have enough resources to sustain another human being, put the breaks on the baby making machine NOW”. My menstrual cycle seems to be back to a regular rhythm now.

So “burning energy” is not really an accurate scientific term but it’s all chemistry.

6 weeks post surgery

wow. Things are starting to feel more “normal” now. I’ve had some hiccups along the way but overall I’m very pleased with my recovery. I’m now down 20kg. I was meant to take 2 weeks off after surgery to recover but I was feeling well enough to get back to work after 1 week. I was up and walking about my ward just a few hours after surgery, I was discharged after 2 nights in hospital. I had some yoghurt a few days after surgery and it was the nicest yoghurt I had eaten. ever.

In the first few weeks after surgery, I found it uncomfortable to sit down. I had pinched a standing desk at work and was doing a lot of walking.

My first slip up happened a week after surgery, we were having a diwali festival at work and I made some gulab jamuns for it. My downfall was I like to sample my food as I bake. So I had 3 gulab jamuns and I had to lie down and moan for a bit because my stomach was too full. I felt like chundering but I didn’t. It was like when you eat too much at christmas time and you feel like lying down and moaning afterwards but it was a tiny amount of food that made me feel like that. My next slip up was Melbourne cup, at work we had everyone bring in a plate of food. I find it hard to want to sample everything. I overate a little and had to lie down for half an hour afterwards.

The post surgery diet hasn’t been horrible. On an average day I now have some yoghurt for breakfast, a tin of tuna for lunch, some sort of protein beverage during the day and dinner is more varied. Some days I’ve forgotten to eat breakfast. I’m not really hungry much. When they remove that much stomach they remove a large portion of the cells that produce the hunger hormone ghrelin.

In 2 weeks in back to “normal” food but I will always have to prioritize protein and nutrient rich vegetables. I’ve still had some emotional lows but I hope they get less intense as time goes on. I’m glad now that I’ve gone through the procedure. I feel like I’m taking control of my health rather than letting my emotions dictate my health. It’s still hard though, there’s many habits I still need to break. The idea of many sweets now grosses me out, it’s the idea of “if I ate all of that I would feel physically sick”. I’m happy to sample sweets but the size of dessert servings almost makes me feel ill. It’s a lot easier for me to waste food now.

1 day before surgery

I have my first ever surgery tomorrow. I’m nervous yet excited. The pre surgery diet has been ok. When I was in Melbourne 2 weeks ago for a conference I slipped up and I didn’t stick to the diet completely. Part of me feels like a failure for needing to rely on surgery to get on top of my health, it feels like I didn’t care enough about my health to want to do anything about it. But a few months ago, I tried a liquid food diet with the idea of , “if I can keep this up, I don’t need surgery” but I couldn’t keep it up and that was a realization for me.

I’m an emotional and experience eater. When I’m upset I often want to eat my emotions, I didn’t sleep very well while in Melbourne and I was a bit pre menstrual. So we can say my emotions were running high. I also find it hard to walk past a new experience, one of my undoings on my road trip was wanting to try all of the country towns pies. If I’m surrounded by a feast of food, I want to try everything at least once.

other than the slip up in Melbourne I’ve been ok with the diet. At least I’m not a boredom eater or an over obsessive clean eater. What type of eater are you?

Most. Stressful. Day.

Let me tell you a story about a stressful day that I had today. I think it’s the most stressed I’ve ever felt. This story actually started a few weeks ago. I was riding my motorbike from Sydney to Cairns. I get up there with no problems. On the way back on Friday the 30th of September I stop in the Gold Coast for a few days to catch up with my siblings for my brothers belated 18th birthday celebrations. I found a nice Airbnb in Miami, I got to my Airbnb half an hour early and I decide to go for a quick swim before checking in. By the time I get back to my bike, I can’t find my key  and I discover I’ve got a flat tire.

Panic starts to set in. I backtrack my steps but I can’t find it. I think someone stole my key from my jeans while I went for a quick swim.  I ask the local pub and surf club if anyone has turned in a key. No luck. I leave my contact details in case it turns up.  I then report it to the police.  I tried calling a few locksmiths but because it was a long weekend and they couldn’t help me until the Tuesday. I needed to be in Melbourne by Tuesday for a conference.

I end up deciding to tow my bike to the airport and park it there for a fortnight and come back later with my spare key. The tow truck guy was at least able to fill up the tire before dropping it off. I was hoping it was just a leaky valve because I couldn’t find a puncture.  At least I got to spend an extra day on the Gold Coast.

Now this is where my stressful day starts.  Before flying to the Gold Coast today I had a pretty tough conversation at work that left me in tears for quite sometime, so I was already emotionally worked up.  I get to the Gold Coast airport and I start walking in the wrong direction for the parking.  I call the parking guy and it turns out my tire is still flat and there’s a guy in a shuttle bus waiting to take me to the parking.  Here starts my second wave of uncontrollable tears.  I eventually get to my bike and the shuttle bus driver was really helpful, he was trying to offer suggestions and what not. I decide to wheel my bike out and have a shot at some roadside assistance.  I give my insurance a call and it turns out, I’m not covered. I start crying on the phone. The insurance lady was lovely she offered to help me with Googling businesses  and what not but it was something I was able to do with my phone and most of the local businesses would be shut anyway, this was around 5pm Queensland time and 6pm New South Wales time.

I’m feeling lost and stranded in the Gold Coast. I panic and I end up giving a random Tinder Gold Coast guy a call that I had gone on one date with 2 weeks ago when I was last in the Gold Coast. I then start googling some near by motorbike repair stores and trying any number I can get my hands on. No luck. Then I hear another motorbike startup, turns out the workshop next to the parking was still open and a guy was starting up his dirt bike. He gives me a bit of air and we discover a puncture. It’s leaking air. I had enough air to ride it to the nearest motorbike store, the store opens at 8:30 tomorrow morning and I hope they can help me. I’ve checked into a motel in Tweed Heads and at least I’ll try to sort something out tomorrow. I know I had family that I could have called but I was already a blubbering mess and I really don’t like crying in front of people, especially people I know.

I guess I have another travel story to share now, this one isn’t that pleasant though.

Fatness and You Can’t Ask That

I was watching an abc iView episode about fatness on a series called You Can’t ask That and I thought I would also answer their questions. So here goes it.

Why Are you so fat?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been fat. As a kid I was encouraged to eat everything off my plate, had asthma and loved playing video games. As an adult I’ve struggled with depression and I’ve had some bad behaviours around food develop.

Do people treat you differently because you’re fat?

Yes, I was always bullied as a kid for being overweight, it’s not as bad now but I have been called a whale on dating sites before. there is also an unconscious bias towards fatness, it signals laziness, disregard for health, overeating and poor lifestyle choices. This bias impacts fat people’s access to health care and earning potential. I’m concerned that during my career someone will judge as lazy and recognize the hard work I’ve put in. I tend to over compensate by over committing and ensuring I’m heard.

How do you wipe your butt?

I don’t, lol that’s not true I wipe my butt with toilet paper. If you really want to know, I wipe from the front because of easier access. I know this comes with higher risk of bacteria infections. I once had someone ask me, “How big is your shit?”, how does someone respond to that?

How do you feel about the word “Obese”?

Feel? it’s a medical term to classify fatness. I don’t have any feelings towards it, is indifferent a feeling? I know I’m obese, just like I know I’m fat.

When was the last time you were skinny?

Maybe when I was 3, before I had proper memory so I don’t remember. I have lost weight before but I’ve never been skinny.

Why don’t you just eat less?

I have mental health issues, if it was just that easy than I wouldn’t be this fat and we wouldn’t be talking about the impending obesity epidemic in developed countries. That is a simplified understanding to a complex problem that is different for everyone. Diets aren’t sustainable, those industries don’t want you to keep the weight off, also we are constantly being bombarded/tempted with food. Alcoholics are told to avoid alcohol, I can’t exactly avoid food.

Are you worried about your health?

Fuck yes, that’s why I’m going through weight loss surgery next week. I want to try to mitigate some of health risks that come with long term obesity.

How do you feel about airplane seats?

They aren’t designed for comfort, it’s always nice when you get an empty seat next to you or get the emergency exit rows with a bit of extra legroom. The first time I had to ask for a seat belt extension was nerve racking but after that it was ok. The first time I struggled with my seatbelt brought on a depressive episode, when the seats start to feel comfortable again it’s a little boost in confidence to show me the progress I’ve made. I always try to strike up conversations with the people I travel with and I’ve met some interesting people this way.

Do you exercise?

Yes, I need to do more but the fact that I have more weight means I use more energy just moving about. It’s great in winter but horrible in summer. Once I’ve recovered from surgery I will be getting back into a good routine.

Is sex difficult when you’re fat?

In my experience, no. I’m not exactly going to be doing standing 69ers really easily, but where there is a will there is a way. It might require a bit more prep and a bit of rope but I could still do standing 69ers if I really wanted to. Also if someone doesn’t like my weight, I’m not forcing them to sleep with me. I try to find non judgemental people to sleep with anyway.

If you could weigh less tomorrow would you?

Yes. This is like asking, if you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you spend it on? In the abc iview I really like the quote, “I could take a dump and I’d weigh less in 5 minutes, if you like”. I would prefer to focus on my health rather than some arbitrary weight number. I could weigh less if I went to the moon. My health is so much more than my weight, there’s physical, mental and social health.

3 things that pissed me off while riding my motorbike from Sydney to Cairns

Let’s have a whinge about travel, I feel like everyone loves sharing the good bits but hardly share the annoying bits. Let’s celebrate all elements of travel.

I’ll tell you 3 things that have been pissing me off the most on my most recent motorbike road trip (I rode my motorbike from Sydney to Cairns and back):

1) having an itchy ear underneath a helmet and not being able to scratch it without stopping, sometimes it feels like a bug is crawling around in my helmet.

2) this heat. I’m just not use to this warm weather. Last night the air conditioning in the hostel automatically switched off at 10pm and switched back on at 7am, probably to save power but it meant I slept fitfully waking up constantly in my own sweat. Heat + fitful sleep make me a not so happy camper.

3) bugs; them hitting my helmet at 110km/hour sometimes shocking me like a bullet would and leaving smears of gunk on my helmet visor. I find myself flinching at butterflies because they are really loud when you hit them, they never seem to get out the way quick enough and you see them before you hit them. Most bugs you don’t see until you hear them smash against your helmet. And bugs hitting exposed skin, I don’t have much exposed skin but I’ve been hit on my neck just under my helmet and when I’ve had my visor up for airflow I’ve been hit on the checks and forehead. It stings like a {insert appropriate swear word} and makes me flinch something fierce, I can even feel the stings under my jacket and thick riding jeans

So it’s not all sunshine and lolly pops like my previous posts would lead you to believe.

Here are my other annoyances on this trip (in no particular order of annoyance) :
4) highways that aren’t the most fun to ride that seem to stretch forever

5) a noisy helmet that feels like I’m causing damage to me ears (fixed with a scarf or earplugs but the earplugs contribute to the itchy ear and have contributed to a mild ear infection)

6) a glaring sun that gives me a headache by the end of the day (I left my prescription sunglasses at home, I got a cheap pair of sunnys from a pharmacist that I’m wearing over my normal glasses)

7) feeling like I have to constantly go to the toilet because of keeping my fluids up

8) Feeling a little socially isolated but that comes with traveling alone and it’s by choice, I did want some me time

9) Getting sunburnt on the small of my back between my motorbike jacket and my jeans because of my sitting position on my bike

10) Shoulders aching from the days of riding (got a massage in cairns to help release some of the tension)

11) What felt like RSI developing in my right wrist from holding the accelerator on the bike (the 2 days rest in cairns helped)

12) Traffic because damn it, I’m on this trip to be on the open road

13) Road works because damn it, I want to feel the wind and not crawl to a stop in the sweltering heat with all of my motorbike gear

14) Not having enough time to do all of the exploring that I want to do

15) Losing my motorbike key in the Gold Coast – grrr this was annoying and an expensive thing to fix

16) trucks; either getting stuck behind them or the shock of their tail winds as they rush past in the opposite direction

17) Camping and getting eaten alive by mosquitos

18) Not being as well rested as I thought I would be and having high expectations of travel

Despite all of these annoyances though this trip has still been totally worth it, I should write a post of what I’ve been grateful for after this

//end rant

On a side note, I can argue that all of things are both positive and negative because they are all related to the experience of traveling

When traveling, what has pissed you off the most?

33 days BS (before surgery)

I’ve done all of my pre surgery appointments; I’ve had my blood tests, nutritionist appointment and doctors appointment. I’ve decided to test out the pre surgery diet starting today. I don’t need to start the pre surgery diet until 2 weeks before surgery but I’d thought I’d test it out a little early. I’m currently 126kg with a BMI of 47.

this pre surgery diet involves having optifast for 3 meals a day, snacking on low carb vegies, drinking plenty of water and avoiding all sugary drinks. I’m aloud to drink black coffee and tea. Here’s an example of what I’ve been consuming today:

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I’m 2 meals into my first day and my verdict is it’s not completely horrible. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Sure I’ve been hungry and food is everywhere but the 2 shakes so far haven’t tasted horrible and I’ve been able to explore the coffee scene in Perth. I’ve basically been exploring Perth via lane ways and espresso. Perth has a good coffee culture and I haven’t struggled finding good coffee.

Just before lunch, I did feel a little lite headed. I was doing research yesterday on loose skin after surgery and I’m a little concerned that I’ll have loose skin around my thighs which could make exercising difficult but it’s the price I might pay for trying to become a healthier me.

Here’s some more photos from today:

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