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Why I write? A Blog Hop on CBRfoodie

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ramen combo with kimchi

I’ve been invited by Dr Gary Lum from yummylummy.com to join in a writer’s blog hop, along with another Canberra food blogger Michele Walton from Fineeating. The blog hop is a chance to gain a little insight into the motivations of bloggers and an opportunity for the blogger to reflect when answering the questions.

What I am working on?

Probably too much. Between work and family commitments I don’t get a lot of blogging time and I do wish I had more time for blogging! As well as the food blog CBRfoodie which I started earlier this year, I am in the early stages of putting together a blog about political campaigning, which is closer to what I actually do for a living. Down the track I hope to be able to do a bit of both without upsetting my partner or children!

How does my writing differ from others in its genre?

Probably not by much, although every blogger I have met recently has a different approach. I think good writing is essential in any form of communication, but food blogging also relies on a sense of aesthetics as well. The good bloggers (or those that take it a bit more seriously or have been doing it for longer) seem to have a more elaborate approach. Their equipment is usually a bit more serious (DSLR, WordPress, Instagram and tricky apps for quickly manipulating and posting images). I like to take a positive approach to the writing as well. I usually don’t post negative comments and devised a rating system whereby even the lowest rating was still basically a recommendation to try the restaurant, but I use “Canberra Beanies” instead of Chef’s hats or Michelin stars.

Why do I write?

I write primarily for the creative outlet it provides. I also enjoy searching for and eating affordable food. Last year I decided to resuscitate an abandoned research/writing project on political campaigning via a blog, however it quickly became apparent that blogging is not as straight-forward as it might initially seem. I realised I would need to teach myself some basic WordPress skills and that it would take some time before I felt my technical inability would not hamper the writing and blogging process. Having worked in the city for a few years I was aware that there was a lack of information about affordable food and thought a “cheap eats” style list for Canberra would be an achievable blogging project to develop the skills for a more elaborate blog. That said, the food blog has been more fun than I expected and has developed into a hobby all of its own. If you’d like to read a more intelligent and considered explanation about the motivations and challenges of food blogging, here is an awesome article from Zoe at Progressive Dinner Party. It has some very interesting and helpful links for new bloggers.

How does my writing process work?

Realising I needed a critical mass of content before I started the WordPress blog, I made an effort to start Tweeting and posting on Facebook to build a supply of content a couple of months earlier in November 2013. My initial approach to the micro-blogging was very simple: I’d get hungry. I’d look inside my wallet, to find a few notes and coins. I’d buy food and usually take a couple of iPhone shots with the camera. I eat and pay for my meal. If I have a few minutes to spare I often tweet something that day and if I remember post it on Facebook that night or next day. Once or twice a week I blog about the lunch and try and promote the blog again through twitter. As I progressed however I remained more comfortable with Twitter, which is where I still share most of my tips and conversations. I’ve developed a comprehensive twitter-based list of Canberra foodies. I’ve also developed a couple of aspects to the blog which I hadn’t anticipated: a comprehensive list of Canberra food blogs and a series of interviews with other foodies. The list of blogs has been a great source of ideas and conversations, particularly with visitors to Canberra who want to know about food experiences from local foodies. I think the interviews have been popular because they represent a very human aspect of the blogging and foodie experience and have been a great way to meet more experienced food bloggers and learn from them.

Now I get to pass on the blog hop baton to two other bloggers who I will briefly introduce:

Tara Cheyne is one of the proudest advocates for Canberra I have met in recent years. Her well-regarded blog ”In the Taratory” started as a creative record of her adventures discovering Canberra’s hidden tourist gems but has evolved over a few short years into a reliable source of information for locals and tourists alike. Tara is also a community activist and is Secretary of the Belconnen Community Council and also on the Board of the Belconnen Arts Centre. If you want to know ANYTHING about Belconnen she’s one of the best sources you can find! Make sure you follow her on Twitter! I love this photo of Tara stomping on grapes at one of Canberra’s many regional wineries.

tara

James Tew moved to Canberra late last year through his work in the Navy. In his spare time (or what little he has) he blogs at “ three daughters” and also runs @TweetCanberra which he has turned into a fantastic news source and blog about events and people across our city. James also ran the highly successful SMR2014 (Social Media Revolution) Seminar a few months ago and has single-handedly raised the bar for social media networking in Canberra, bringing together professionals, amateurs and aspiring newcomers into the exciting and evolving world of social media in the most well-connected city in Australia. The photo below was taken by me when James and I decided to treat our daughters to a day of toffee apples and cider (non-alcoholic of course!) at an apple-festival near Canberra!

james tew

Thanks to Gary for inviting me to be part of the blog hop and thanks to Tara and James for agreeing to participate and accept the batons!

Meet a #canberra Foodie: Dr Gary Lum (@garydlum)

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Dr Gary Lum is a well-known Canberra foodie to anyone on Twitter. As well as being an accomplished cook and social media practitioner, Gary is a great ambassador for our home town, despite the fact that his favourite NRL team are the Broncos …well, he was originally from Queensland! 🙂

gary

I love Gary’s blog and it was great to read this page and learn more about him (the interview in the Canberra Times wasn’t satisfying enough!). I hope he always finds the time to keep up his prolific writing and cooking. I think he’s a great role model for any Canberra men who, who like me, want to improve themselves (physically and intellectually).

Who are you Gary?  I’m a Brisbane boy in love with Darwin and living in Canberra. I grew up in Brisbane and completed my medical and specialty training there. The first consultant job I had was running territory-wide pathology services in the NT based at the Royal Darwin Hospital. I was there from 1996 until 2007. During that time I learnt a lot about medical management and spent some time outside my comfort zone managing the Royal Darwin Hospital. It was in 2002 that I did a seven month stint and bang in the middle of it terrorists struck in Bali. Along with the entire team at the hospital we went about receiving, resuscitating and then relaying on burns patients around the country. You can read my take on it at http://yummylummy.com/2012/10/12/the-2002-bali-bombings-my-experience-and-my-memories/ In 2007 I took up a position as a branch head in Australian Government to continue my career in health emergency management.

My love affair with food was ordained when I was born into a Chinese family. On my Mum’s side we’re fifth generation Australian but the only non-Chinese part was an Irish great great grand mother. My mother is a fabulous cook and she’s also a domestic science teacher. She taught me and my younger brothers the basics and we’ve never looked back. My father is also a good cook so growing up I was surrounded by excellent role models for cooking. While living in Darwin my eating habits became quite poor and my exercise routine consisted of walking to my car. At my peak I reached 100 kg which for a 170 cm tall bloke is obese. After reading various books and thinking about what I wanted to achieve I elected to go down the low carbohydrate route. As a medical practitioner I’m aware of the controversy and the risks. For me though, it helped me shed nearly 30 kg in a few months and maintain a weight at about 75 kg for some years. It got me into a position where I could exercise twice a day and keep trim. When I arrived in Canberra I started putting on weight again and this year returned to the low carbohydrate way of living. I had peaked to 82 kg and didn’t want to buy new clothes. I’ve quickly shed 6 kg and feel a lot better.

Age?  I was born in 1965.

Where do you live?  I live in Belconnen near Lake Ginninderra.

How long have you been blogging?  I started the blog in August 2010 after exploring various social media platforms beginning that year. Having a blog seemed like a natural extension to being on twitter and tumblr.

Other hobbies?  My hobbies are cooking, eating and photographing food. I’ve always enjoyed photography and in my clinical career collected a large collection of clinical images from patients with severe wound infections.

Apple or Android?  Before smart phones I was a Diehard Windows PC man. I laughed at Mac users. In about 2008 though my experience with Windows had reached a nadir. How could Bill Gates let me down? I bought a MacBook and haven’t looked back. When smart phones became available I naturally bought an iPhone and then an iPad. For personal use I am exclusively Apple. I have no control what I use at work. That said, I love my work BlackBerry. It is simply the best tool for texting and writing e-mails on a handheld device. All that said, I have no criticism of android products. I’ve just never used them. The Apple products satisfy my needs.

Car/Bus/Bike?  I love cars. I love big heavy thick metal plated cars, I love V8 engines and I love engines with minimal exhaust baffling. I love modified engines. I grew up with fitters and turners and they modified the engines of their cars and we loved driving fast. I love driving fast and one of the greatest joys was living and working in the Northern Territory when the Stuart Highway was an open road and I could drive the 1000 km from Darwin to Tennant Creek in less than six hours. My favourite car was my 1978 CL Chysler Regal Le Baron with a 265 cubic inch hemi six which breathed through a Holley 350 twin twin barrel and ran extractors to twin down pipes. After that I owned several V8 Falcons including an XE Fairmont Ghia with a 351 cubic inch Cleveland V8. I now drive a VW diesel because fuel costs so much money but I still dream of a big V8 in front of me with power to the rear wheels. I’ve never caught a bus in Canberra but I do own a bicycle. It’s gathering cobwebs at the moment.

Favourite TV show?  I love everything Star Trek. The premise of Gene Roddenberry to have a better more ethical life exploring the universe really appeals to me. I fantasise about being the captain of a starship. Apart from Star Trek I enjoy The Big Bang Theory, Top Gear, Master Chef, My Kitchen Rules and the Great Australian Bake Off.

Favourite Device?  I have an iPhone 5, an iPad 3, a MacBook Pro and an iMac. I wear a fitbit everywhere and share my stats daily to twitter and Facebook. For food photography I use a Nikon D90 at home and when I’m out a Canon PowerShot G16 because it has a nice f2 aperture and shoots in RAW. I’ve fallen for Adobe Lightroom for post processing.

Can we take a peek at your home screen? 

garys screenshot

Most used app?  Twitter and Instagram are the most used apps.

Favourite Social Media?  I’m addicted to Twitter and use three accounts, viz., @garydlum, @Yummy_Lummy and @DrGaryLum

What’s the first thing online you check each morning?  My work e-mail, then personal e-mail, then WordPress, then Instagram, and then Facebook. I’ll also check in to a few places on Foursquare for good measure.

What do you worry about at night?  I try not to worry. When something starts to disturb me I actively think other thoughts.

Most exciting recent news?  Free wi-fi for Canberra town centres. That’s got to be a good thing. Hopefully Belconnen will get it soon.

Ideal Career?  I’m doing what I enjoy now. I’m an adviser in Australian Government and an Honorary VMO in ACT Government.

Recent Book you recommend?  Ship of the line by Diane Carey. It’s a Star Trek novel set over the TOS and TNG eras with some DS9 elements.

Recent online video you laughed atI can’t remember but I’m sure it had cats in it doing silly things.

Favourite FoodMy favourite food is congee or jook. It’s comfort food and great for Canberra winters. Very close is my Mum’s wonton soup because it’s communal food. My best wonton meal was a couple of years ago with my parents and brothers all participating.

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You can learn more about Gary and his many passions at http://yummylummy.com/ . Gary is on twitter at @garydlum, @Yummy_Lummy and @DrGaryLum and here’s a link to his Instagram account.

All about Dr Gary Lum, well sort of

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All about me, well sort of. is a great summary of a guy who is becoming one of my favourite bloggers to follow in Canberra. Dr Lum has a can-do attitude and the charts to prove he’s making progress. His cooking and food reviews are straight-up honest and fun to read. I hope he keeps blogging for a long time! 🙂

and yes, I will track him down and invite him to share a meal at his favourite affordable food joint in Canberra very soon!