Tuesday, 9 January 2007

11-01-2004_11-30-2004

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

World From A Bus
Despite being a nobly wounded hero, the bills still have to be paid. My medical leave ended and Monday it was back to work. With, I might add, a huge sense of relief because frankly, laying around home watching Foxtel repeats had become BORING...
I tried driving in to work but parking in the CBD is expensive, and most of it is too far for me to hobble on crutches so I stuck with the bus, and this time, for some reason, I noticed something that I haven't in all my time bussing to work.
There's a church on St Geo's Tce, converted into a cafe/restaurant.
There's also a church on Trinity arcade that has a tearoom, and all of a sudden those two facts clicked together and produced a brainfart...
Churches serving food and drink are trendy. But in order to become a place like the one on the Terrace, it most likely had to be deconsecrated first. (An ex-boss of mine used to refer to them as "desecrated" churches, and now I can understand why...)
The fact is, that despite me being not religious, I couldn't help but think of The Scourging Of The Temples when I got to that point. Because one thing my spirit tells me is that churches are churches because the people want them. Not, as the clergy would like you to believe, because the clergy consecrate that church, but because the church just needs to be there for the congregation.
Churches are places of spiritual repair, and no amount of church functionaries saying "thou art no longer a house of god" or whatever their formal dialogue is, will make it any less a church, just as no amount of chanting in the first place made on blind bit of difference to the parishioners, who would have as happily held a church in Mr Smith's lounge room or Mrs Jones' garden patio.
A lot of churches began this way, people got together, then they built a church, then the clergy came along and took possession...
The point I guess, is that it struck me that a lot of people had to have given up on that church and preferred meals and beverages to spiritual nourishment, for that church to be deconsecrated. And for another church to annex tearooms, that too speaks volumes.
We've become a nation where we worship The Meal and Doing Lunch and Out For Coffee more than we do our spiritual values, no wonder we're becoming the Obese Place...
Categories - ::/:: posted at 11:44 PM Ted
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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Special K
The man who invented the K Ration for soldiers has died. He has a book on healthy eating, and you know what? Seeing how he died at age 100, I would tend to believe what he says about diet over all the competing others...
Especially the bit about wine....
Categories - ::/:: posted at 2:52 PM Ted
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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Gambling Addicts
Just finished watching the segment on gambling addicts. The quote which struck me was something along the lines that "gamblers are like alcoholics, it never goes away again."
It's why you should think carefully before buying a pair of tracksuit pants. (??? WTF ??? Confused? Read on...)
Everything you do, becomes part of you. Let's face it. If someone walks up to you and says they think you stink, then walks off again, THAT becomes a part of you too. If you buy a tie that you know you don't suit, you may just find that the next person who sees you with that tie may thinkt that's the real you and the next thing you know you're in a relationship under false pretenses and she's buying you suits to match that damn tie and...
My mother was a practising alcoholic. There was never any talk of wagon for her, and she died of the disease. It was a part of her, the experience is now part of my life too, and it taught me that you never change totally, you just subsume some facets of your persona and expose others. Alcoholics never lose the niggling need to drink, just as ex smokers such as myself still sometimes find themselves chewing on a pencil and going crosseyed trying to take a drag. Once you experience something it takes a lobotomy and nervous sytem replacement to get the experience out fo you again. It's how we're built, we record stuff like that in our very bodies and beings.
I always hated the "suburban tracksuit parent" type person, you know the ones, they have a smoke hanging out their mouth, tracksuit bottoms and sneakers on because they can't be bothered to dress, and sometimes they can even be seen sporadically taking care of a child. But despite the tracksuit you'll never see them exercising, it's just the base level minimum they can wear without being naked or in pajamas.
Seven years ago I bought tracksuit pants. Not the "I've just been to the gym" type but an almost casual teal pair of trousers that just happened to be made of tracksuit material and had an elastic waistband. I was even proud that I'd not only conquered what I considered a phobia, but done it in such a way that I didn't end up looking like a tracksuit suburbanite myself.
Now remember how I said things become part of you? And it's the reason you should carefully consider everything you do? Well there it is... Spend that first tenner at the casino and you may just end up on a far different track than you want to end up on. Drink a bottle of bourbon to kill the pain of a busted relationship and you may never find another relationship willing to live with a newly-minted alcoholic. And buy a pair of tracksuit pants and one day you find yourself looking at that same pair of trackie dacks seven years on and wondering how you've become that suburbanite with the pot belly and where did all those moth holes come from?
Categories - ::/:: posted at 7:27 PM Ted
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Monday, November 22, 2004

"Toe"tology - I'm gonna mention it again
TOE UPDATE:
When I left the hospital last Wednesday, I was given strict instructions - have the dressings changed three times a week, rest up, come back in two weeks. And given three plastic sleeves to put over the cast for showers. So I'm supposed to only shower every fourth day?
I am reusing the bags several times each, and (Glad to lend a hand!) using kitchen stretch wrap to ensure that the cast stays dry. I'm also doing the dressings myself. Because two things have happened that make me realise how shitty some aspects of our health system still are.
To begin with, the dressings. I live near ****wood Medical Centre so I decided to get my dressings changed there. I first booked by phone.
"Well sir," said the receptionist, "we'll book you in to see Dr **** and then to see the nurse." I didn't get it, and pointed out that it was a dressing change not a treatment change, but the bookings got made anyway.
When I got there I spoke to the doctor when he called my name, and again said that it was just a dressing change and didn't need a consultation. He led me directly to the nurse's station, looked at the wound, and left. The nurse meanwhile, saw that I had a pin and opened a $1.20 pack of gauze pads, and was about to just stick another one over the pin when I mentioned that there needed to be a Jelonet over the pin.
"Oh," she said, "they used to just spray these pins with Betadine, what happened?"
I fished in my pocket for a sterile pack of Jelonet (am I prepared or what?) and she wrapped it around, then stuck the one square of gauze over the pin and closed up the cast again. I'm sorry to say, I was stuck for words. I have a stitched split line around the toe, with gauze over it, which was all mucky and yellow and which she'd lifted to check the injury.
And then put back without replacing...
I got my second shock when I left the Medical Centre. $51 for that little lot, including $41 for the doctor to escort me to the nurse's station apparently...
By the time I got home my toe was throbbing, because in the process of not replacing half the dressing, the nurse had also replaced it in such a way that it effectively tourniqueted the whole toe. By the afternoon, I was in agony despite painkillers, and Trish took me to the chemist to buy my own damn dressings.
That brings up the second thing: Have you ever tried to get hold of wound management supplies outside of a first aid kit? (And they, let me tell you, are pretty crappy at best anyway) I've been through this once before, when a good friend had an Ilizaroff Frame on her leg and I spent months cleaning pinsites every evening. I should have been prepared for this...
First, to get hold of anything like a steripac (which is a pre-prepared wound dressing kit which includes a clean towellette, sterile dish, vial of sterile saline, tweezers, and a sterile pack of gauze pads) you apparently need to go buy them from the warehouse. Or be a hospital. So you have to settle for the second-best option, which is to buy sterile gauze packs and everything separately. Increasing the risk of contaminating parts thereof. And disposable tweezers? Fuggeddaboudit...
Saline solution? "Yess sir, we have this contact lens solution in half litre bottles." So once I've opened it, I'm going to use 3 - 10 millilitres and the rest is now no longer sterile... Great. Where is the problem in stocking ampoules of irrigation saline?
So anyway. I bought my supplies from the huge selection and hobbled home again. Set up my clean area right beside the bed, changed the dressings, within ten minutes the toe stopped aching and things have been back to almost normal.
I intend to write to the Medical Centre to let them know what I think of them, and why I still visit my doctor in Wembley despite that being 15 Km away. I also intend to write to the Pharmacy Guild or whoever is in charge and give them a razz-up about carrying something more useful than cough syrup in stock, and see if I can't get a bit of a fair go for people who are not only prepared to take responsibility for their own health but are smart enough not to think that they only need cough syrup.
And there's the rub. As long as we let ourselves be "nanny-state"-ified, we will be. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. All that's necessary for more and more responsibility to be lifted from us, is to abrogate it. And the rub is, it's hell on wheels to get it back...
Most importantly, it means I'm going to have to go begging to the hospital to get steripacs...
Categories - ::/:: Edited on: Monday, November 22, 2004 12:53 PMposted at 10:27 AM Ted
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Saturday, November 20, 2004

A good IM integration program.
Been playing with Qnext (http://www.qnext.com) and it is quite useful.
It integrates Yahoo messenger, AIM, MSN, and ICQ, (which seems to cover the biggest IM market share,) with a P2P file sharing scheme, audio/video, and a few other toys.
I am enjoying it except for a few niggling areas:
No instant file transfer as with the other IM services - you can't just drag a file onto someone's name and have the file transfer. Of course, the P2P areas makes this a bit superfluous but sometimes you just need to be able to do a spontaneous transfer, so this would be nice.
No groups within your buddy list. This is a real drawback because you need to either add ALL your buddy list to a filezone or else add them by individual name, a laborious process. Havong access groups would go a long way to making this program more useful.
History logging. Sometimes I like to be able to save a conversation history. Of course, the program has a lot of nice features too:
File zones work very well and are easy to set up and use. I like being able to organise my files and present them this way, without having all the P2P search overhead, and it seems secure enough.
Picture albums are great, a good way to share images. The album plugin is just great. Did I mention that I like the photo albums?
Message windows retain their histories as long as Qnext is not shut down. You open a conversation with someone, and all the old messages are still there. Great for those "allday" conversations where I'd normally lose track of what we were chatting about.
Timestamps. You can turn them on post-emptively. Good to check when the last words in an allday conversation were typed, helps you to know just how pissed off your correspondent is going to be at your tardiness...
Did I mention the photo albums? So, if they added some file transfer interoperability, buddy groups, history logging, and maybe a better P2P search component, would I buy it? I think I'd buy it right now.
Categories - ::/:: posted at 7:00 PM Ted More Comments: (3)
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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Spider nil, me nil. I win. I think...
Sunday afternoon 6:30ish.
Large black spider drops onto the bed where I'm lying watching TV, so I swing into action. I flick it off the bed, scoop up a slipper, and jump down after the spider. Almost.
Left big toe hooks the foot end of the bed, catches. I have one hand on the wall to stop me faceplanting into it, all my weight on the one toe, which bends and I slip off the bed.
Land, swat spider, look at left big toe which is miraculously twisted so it's under my foot. Then notice that I can see the toe knuckle joint and a lot of blood, this can't be good...
EVER so gently flick the damaged digit back into place and try to staunch the blood flow. I've almost completely snapped the toe off, all the retractor tendons (the ones on top) and the skin across the last joint are torn, which is why it folded underneath.
Trish hands me a towel to put under to save the carpet, and I grab a roll of bandage (don't ask me why, a few weeks ago I put a roll of bandage on my dresser and it's still there) and wrap the toe, then splint it to the next toe, then wrap the whole foot. Get into more presentable trousers and we head off to emergency.
At one hospital near to us, I wait almost two hours to be ever so snubbed. "Hmmm you have no private health cover? Then you'd be better off going to Fremantle Hopsital." (I do have private cover but it's on a family cover so I forgot, but after this piece of wank I am not prepared to give these bastards anything. You hear me SJOG Murdoch?)
Arrive at Freo and instead of two hours, am in xray within 15 minutes, on a bed in emergency getting painkillers and ECGs and a new dressing within minutes of leaving xray, and booked in for surgery Monday. I have to sleep in emergency because they have a bed shortage but I am allowed all the medication I normally take, which includes a Stilnox sleeping tablet as required, and Dave my ER nurse reckons it might be required.
Also, I have to fast from midnight on, I am starving. Dave tells Trish that Fast Eddie's are open, and within a few more minutes we have chips and burgers. Toe hurts excruciatingly but hey I am a dickhead and deserve this so I bear up and act like it's nothing.
Around 1AM I get moved to the 23 hour ward, a misnomer if ever there was one. It's used mainly as a recovery facility for the operating theatre, and people either stay 4 to 8 hours, or like me end up there for over 48 hours.
By now I've had to tell the story more than ten times. I already feel stupid enough. But in the morning, Leraine (not her real name) hands me some surgical wash and a washcloth and basin of warm water, and I finally get a chance to clean up after 36 hours, so I use it. Then almost by magic I'm on my way to theatre, at midday.
In theatre I have deep philosophical thoughts. I have only had one other procedure under general anaesthetic before, to whit, one brace of tonsils removed when I was three years of age. If my emphysema-wracked body won't cope with anaesthetic, this is the last time I have left on Earth. I look around at dinosaur posters, Teletubbies posters (Argh! EEEEVVVVIIILLL!!!!) and decide I'd rather be fishing...
Well it's true, isn't it? Everyone worries about not waking up AFTER the anaesthetic, but really you have to worry about the last things you do before you get to the counting backwards stage... I decide that having told Trish I love her just before probably qualifies me for something AFTER any putative incident, and then it's on to theatre.
They adjust stuff on my drip, add stuff, and then clamp a mask over my nose and mouth. Emphysema makes it hard to draw in and expel preath because lung tissue stiffens over time. Add a blocked sinus and you're in gaspville. Add a mask that has ten piund springs on every valve and you have real troubles. I panic several times and finally a nurse takes the mask from the sleepiemaker and he lets it sitt a trifle loose so I get some outside air and a much better pressure gradient, bless him.
I can see a few more needles going into the drip bung, and then I am awake in recovery one with a lovely theatre sister asking me to breathe a bit deeper. Despite my emhpysema, my blood O2 percentage is usually from 96% to 99%, and it's currently about to fall off 90%. I croak back an "orkkaAyyhh" and damn my throat is rough and raw. No Australian Idol hopes for me right now...
I simultaneously realise that I'm at a point AFTER the Big Nothing so I have survived. Yayy. Now is it still the same Universe or have things changed? Okay, feels the same. ish...
Back to the "23 hour ward" and ensconced in my kinky electric adjusting bed. Toe (and foot, and heel, and 3/4 of the lower leg dammit) are enclosed in a split cast, made the old way with real plaster and bandages. To begin with I'm still not terribly compos mentis and I sure can't talk, and everything I eat drink or sniff at smells and tastes like an accident in a plastics factory, no doubt a result of the endotracheal "PVC Challenge" they played with me to get the anaesthetic nice and deep into the bellows.
As I eat and drink and eat and drink and eat and drink, the majority of the chemical aftertaste has evaporated. I can almost talk normally to Trish and Atila whe the visit me, and joy of joys a big bag of Burger Rings (no matter that I tel then how ecologically unfriendly those things are - do you know how many innocent burgers they have to kiii for a packet of rings?) and a Chunky KitKat Finger, and a Coke. And a tiny Get Well helium baloon.
Four buggerrings take the chemical taste completely away. Make mental note to let hospital staff know that Burgerrings are THE onyl way to clean out the ethylene flavouring..
Two swigs of Coke, and I have a voice again, closer to the voice I want back. It's all good!
Trish and sonny boy depart, leaving me also the day's paper. Because, did I mention it I think I did not, my radio pendant will only play 720 ABC radio, and there are no TVs in a 23 hour ward.
After Trish and the lad have gone home, I can let myself relax. That whole foot must have swollen to fill the entire cast, which is why they make them in a split fashion. I beg painkiller off Leraine and she provides a fairly new product, Tramadol. Unfortunately, the first capsule doesn't do anything for me except make me feel a bit relaxed, and then shift changes.
When Arn (also not her yada yada yada) takes over she asks if I need painkiller and I say yes please butr not those --midori things cos the don't work, a couple of Panadol would be just fine thank you.
Five minutes later another nurse comes out with Tramadol. "Give them a chance, last time you only took one at a time, try two at a time" and I can't see the difference beteween taking two tablets half an hour apart or together, since they are supposed to be long-lasting the effect will be the same after an hour, and for me that effect had already been zip. I decide to go along with them.
"If I take these and they don't work then can I get panadol?"
"yeap for sure they say"
So I swallow my Midoridol and "Hey! They aren't working! Can I have my Panadol now please?"
I got a look of pure loathing from Arn, and the other nurse appears with Panadol. I take then both (with all this buggering about it's been more than an hour of steadily increasing agonising pain from the sinistral pedal appendage and I know my face would be quite pale by now, and Panadol take time to kick in.
Eventually I'm relatively painfree and ready to turn in but - three out of three of my wardmates snore. Not all the time, not all at the same time, but in a sort of rondelay. I ask for my Stilnox again, take half, go to sleep. Get woken up an hour later to get my antibiotic shot. (True - only reason I am stuck here for 48 hours more is that the surgeon wanted to be sure I got my fair dose of antibiotics.) Took other half of Stilnox (Can I plan, or what?) and went back to sleep again.
Woke up again around 5:30 and begged for painkillers, went through the same rigmarole with Tramadol (which are so much better!) and Panadol (which I know work for me) and finally got it written into my drugs sheet. I wonder if sometime later they'll notice my addendum to that entry, which had a negative word, a rude word, and the word "work!" in there, in that order...
And curtains. WTF is it with nurses and curtains? I close the curtains because I read whenever I wake up and sleep when the food's all gone and the medications and obs are done, because the best way t heal is to sleep and let your body effect repairs. So the curtains are closed, Nurse walks past and opens them, so I make sure I close them - loudly - before they are out of earshot. Only one nurse asked me if I preferred them closed, and one other just observed and fell in with my way of doing things.
By this stage I desperately wanted a mirror. Oh, I wanted to see my hair and brush out the tangles, but mainky I wanted to see if I had gained some sort of sticker on my forehead during the intake procedure, some kind of sticker that said something like "Dickhead, knows nothing, ignore him." or something.
They gave me something infinitely better - they gave me crutches. I could yoink curtains shut without leaving the bed now. I could also now head to the head and have a sponge bath again to get rid of the sweaty fug that I felt surrounded in. I felt much better afterwards.
And Wednesday, after having fun changing the dressing, and feeling sorry to be leaving the excellent nurses, who outnumbered the less motivated ones quite considerably, and in a strange way I really wanted to be back in hospital for a bit longer. Nothing expected of me, no stresses to cope with...
But the upside. I got home and cooked Mediterranean chicken with yoghurt and tahini dressing, chicken and fresh tomato couscous, fried zucchini and onion in garlic/tomato paste dressing, and salt and vinegar cucumber slices. The flavours married together really well and I pigged out.
Hospital food has improved since my last visits to a friend there some five years ago, but it says a lot for what could still be done if I tell you that both meals featured overcooked vegetables, small carb servings (rice and mashed potato) and the meal portion looked the same colour both nights, had the same flavour both nights, and differed only in thst one of the meals had had some canned champignon slices in it.
Anyway - I'm home now, with a knee to toe cast that weighs a tonne, a big toe with a wire drilled through it so I can't damage the broken bones or the sewn tendons, there's a peephole where the dressings over the split skin stiches and around the wire pin can be changed ecvery second day, and am wondering how I'll go getting into work next week. (I have two weeks off but am feeling much less sore and awkward so I reckon I can start next week already.
Cheers all!
Categories - ::/:: posted at 12:56 AM Ted
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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

journobloggodogma
Blogging As Typing, Not Journalism
I don't usually. Honestly. But I have to...
Shit, this is a journo who is saying bloggers don't have that certain journalistic something, that je ne sais pas quoi, how do you say it? Ah yes, integrity... Apparently that's one of the differences between journos and bloggers, bloggers don't have... integrity..
Okay he's getting pumped about exit polls and politics but he wants to make the point that bloggers indulge in "gabfests" and (I get the impression he's trying to say this) indulging in a mutual masturbation society. Today (as almost every other day) I followed one story in the news - one article referring to another article on another news source or just using it verbatim, some newspapers carrying several articles under different bylines on the same story. If that's not mutual wank I don't know what is...
I dislike any body or corporation getting too large. Scaling up quantity or size almost always results in loss of some qualities. You make meat pies in larger quantities and the quality goes down. Staff pay less attention to the product under their charge, inspectors are more inclined to skimp checking EVERY pie, and because we're dealing now with extra throughput there are more chances for foreign items to enter the process.
Same thing happens if you try and make sausages in quantity, or laws to cover majority cases, or news articles... That's my 10c worth. Read more blogs!
Categories - ::/:: posted at 9:54 PM Ted
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