Saturday, December 22, 2007


As much as I like rain, and know that Melbourne desperately needs more water in its catchments, dumping it all at once, is not the way to go. In the past 2 weeks, we have been flooded many times. The worst was when the garage door wasn't closed, and all the neighbours' mulch and dirt was washed inside with the fast flowing water. That time the water was about 20cm deep). Now, with the garage door shut, we filter the water as it seeps in. But it still seeps in.

Yesterday, and overnight, there was about 5-10cm water in the garage, repeatedly, with it pooling in front of the door. The storm drains above us, and the ones below us were both complete full and overflowing. More of the backyard was washed under the fence and onto the bike track.

I really hope this rain is falling in the catchment areas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mixi and update

Apologies if I seem to be posting less. I'm trying to be more diligent in posting in Japanese at Mixi (ニフウルシエルッフ). A little more regular practice in composition should help me progress a little faster. A post in Japanese is very difficult and time consuming, so I'm not spending as much time on LJ/other sites, as I'm trying to limit computer use outside of work hours.

Reynauds symptoms are getting quite bad due to the incredible amount of typing. Half the time I can't feel my cold arms/hands (or they are tingling with pins/needles), and the other half there is searing pain, sometimes from my elbows, but especially in my poor hands. The longer hours, reduced flexibility and greater pressures at work are mostly contributing to this. It's making it very difficult to study around work..... I feel like I'm treading water and going backwards. I need a lot more time! たくさんもっと時間が要りますね!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An echidna!

An echidna!
nifwlseirff on flickr
I've never had an echidna womble it's way through my yard before!

Smokey was very interested in this brown blob moving across the yard and through the grasses lining the long driveway. I didn't pay it much attention to begin with, thinking it was one of next door's chooks that was being a little more adventurous than usual. However, when I saw it's snout poking out from a grass clump, it obviously wasnt a chook.

It wombled it's way up the driveway, trying to find it's way into next door's yard. There weren't any gaps in the fence big enough for it to fit through, so it walked the length of the long driveway, and scared next door's cat when it turned the corner to go back down on the other side of the fence.

Apparently echidnas are fairly common in this area - lots of ants. I love living in the hills ;>

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


We got flooded with the recent downpour.... well, the garage and grounds were flooded, and the house was ok, thankfully. However, my mower was drownded, the battery was sitting above the water line, but the power pack for charging the battery is still dripping, 24 hours later. It was plugged in an on at the time, so I have no idea why the safety fuse in the house didn't blow. I hope the mower still works!

Most of the neighbours mulch ended up in the garage. All our moving boxes are dead - the next move is going to be horrendously expensive. Huge apologies to everyone who had lent/given us boxes - they are a sodden mess now :-\

A newly bought huge bag of birdseed holds water really well. Garden chemicals can only be thrown out. Nylon camping gear is drying, but my sleeping bag is not worth saving. Golf clubs, my tennis racket and a huge number of garden tools were drenched, and not sure how many will survive.

Worst of all is the huge amount of wood that we had stored (upright) to make more shelving, the pictures (including one pastel by me), and the Ivar/Sten shelves that are now useless. Some of the wood may be saved, but now won't be as tall their matching shelves. The backing wood is dead, the chipboard uprights are fairly dead.

And it took way too long to clean up the mess. 80% of the downpour that landed in the driveway and our neighbours gardens ended up sitting in the garage for about three hours - the storm drain at the unit above was blocked, and there is not enough drainage inside the garage.

The side path also had a few mini land-slides, and the chooks can get under the fence even easier now.

Rain is good... just a little less focussed, please!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Last update in November

Yay.... I don't need surgery again! Yet.... The endometriosis is starting to grow back, after a 4 year lull. Pretty good, for a body that seems to hoard an excess of oestragen. It's been a little over 4 years since I got the Mirena IUD, and the specialist today noted that it's probably running low on progestagen... tipping control again to the oestragen hungy endometriosis. Several fingernail sized cysts have appeared on the left ovary, but otherwise everything is as it was 4 years ago. Thank goodness.... The adenomyosis has not increased, and there seem to be no adhesions. I was prompted to get this ultrasound by incredibly sharp pains on the left side every month or so - alerting me to something being wrong with the left ovary (it was linked with ovulation and not periods). Sometime next year, I'll be getting my second Mirena IUD instead of surgery. An increased level of progestagen to the area should settle the endometriosis back down, without any removal. Ultrasounds + Mirena + some (small, monthly) discomfort, is still much, much better than surgery..... I'm really glad it had nothing to do with the adenomyosis... the only treatment for that is still a full hysterectomy... :-\ The specialist commented that with endometriosis/adenomyosis, you learn a lot about medicine and bodily functions, and learn how to monitor your own health extremely well. I think this is the case for any chronic condition.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Too hot!

nifwlseirff on flickr
I played with the ISO settings on my camera today, the first time I've ever purposefully experimented with it. It was close to sunset, probably not the best time for it, but I had a flock of willing subjects. Because the weather has been hot, the birds have appreciated the tub of water I leave out (specifically for the ducks, as they have always been fond of it).

While I was sitting outside, one of the cockatoos decided to take a drink. He moved a little too quick to capture him mid-drink, but provided an excellent action shot afterwards. This summer will be a warm one....

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Too busy....

Work has been insane in the last few weeks. We've had the rest of the writing team down from overseas to train them (and ourselves) in DITA XML, and our new authoring system. Of course, this was at the same time as doing normal work. This required a lot of overtime. But because *everyone* in the team was doing it, none were able to use the new time in lieu system (if you work late, you can come in late the next day, but time in lieu does not accrue). At least I get one day time in lieu for working the Cup day public holiday - I need to arrange a bunch of appointments for whatever day I end up taking in lieu. Unfortunately, training has also meant going against doctors' recommendations of working Wednesdays at home, to avoid the allergens in the building/air conditioning at work. Of course, there were social obligations outside of work for the team, some of which I was not up to because my ankle is still healing. On that note, I managed my first 10,000 step day late last week, thanks to a walk at lunchtime. Unfortunately it wiped me out for the rest of the week, and the ankle is still complaining. But... it is getting better, finally!

On the walking front, I made it to Rivendell when I was in the Otways in October. I'm now heading for Lothlorien. It's slower going because of the hotter weather, and the insane workload. I should be spending more time studying, but I tend to crash as soon as I get home. Fibro plays up more on warmer days, which paradoxically causes the Raynaud's to be worse in hot weather (for people who don't have it as a symptom of something else, it's normally worse in cold weather). With this workload, I'm getting really run down, and symptoms of CFS/costo/etc are appearing... must take more time for me.

I'm finding many old friends on Facebook these days, it's really quite funny! I'm back in touch with some high school and primary school friends. I find it really funny how some have turned up in what I thought were completely unrelated friends groups. It really is a small world...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Insect overload!

Since the weather has become warmer, the number of insects around has increased dramatically. Especially those that are getting inside. In the last few weeks we have had bull ants (on the ceiling!), earwigs (some with wings), a few varieties of spiders, several varieties of moths, a butterfly, millipedes, a house centipede (yuck!), and the usual flies and mosquitoes. Thankfully, the wasps and bees stayed outside. Not to mention the large number of cicada shells hugging the various trees and wooden posts in the garden. The sound of an Australian summer in the hills is the deafening, continuous roar of the cicadas.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nasty weather

nifwlseirff on flickr
I've uploaded many photos from Tasmania (and have a lot more). Once I'm done with this lot, I'll start on our more recent trip down the Great Ocean Road with the return leg through the Grampians.

The poor bug (in the photo) decided that the Tassie trip was too difficult, back in Melbourne, the engine decided to die. So we got a larger, more comfortable car to drive around Victoria for a week. The new (!) engine from Mexico is currently being broken in, before it gets a tune. I won't be driving until after then.

The weather is too summery - it's over 30 (Celcius) today. I deal with hot weather extremely badly. I'm definitely not looking forward to late November through to March :-\ The cicadas are loving it, and are droning obnoxiously at all hours.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


We are heading to Tassie on the boat this evening, and returning in 8 days. Unfortunately, I'm still on crutches (possibly for the entire time I'll be there), but it should still be good. I hope I can get a shoe on today!

We are taking the chop-top 1970 bug, which always gets a lot of looks and comments (and offers to buy it!). I've heard that it is likely to snow we we are staying for the first night! Thank the heater was fixed.

Expect lots of photos of Tasmania!

Monday, September 24, 2007

*Just* a sprain?!?

I'm furious a: "It's just a sprain so you can come in to work"... Um, no... it's not *just* a sprain. Then "We'll provide a taxi. You know, we are doing this just for you." ..uhh... riiight....

My annual and sick leave was mis-reported again sand I can't figure out whether it is due to incompetence or software problems.

Anyone know of a good, 4 day a week job: writing/ documentation/ training/ project management / research / any combination, that would be happy with semi-regular telecommuting?
Normally Me
Only the ligaments around the ankle are damaged. I fell down stairs, dislocated a toe on my other foot == lots of damage.
Grade 1 or 2 sprain. Grade 3 strain.
Ice speeds the recovery process and reduces pain. Ice causes my blood vessels to spasm, blocks blood flow which slows the recovery process, and increases pain (Raynaud's).
Inflammation response is short (2-3 days), can be reduced with anti-inflammatories. My brain can't turn off inflammatory responses (fibromyalgia). My ankle remains swollen for over a month. I can't take anti-inflammatories (kidney disease).
Pain receptors are turned down/off. My brain is sensitised to pain, it can not turn off pain receptors (fibromyalgia).
Once-off sprains are relatively quick to heal (4-6 weeks). I have repeatedly sprained my left ankle, badly. It takes several months for me to heal (> 10 weeks).

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Movement outside
nifwlseirff on flickr
Not a good weekend. My ankle gave way, again. Unfortunately this time, it was on stairs as I was walking down (4 stairs to the triangular landing). It hurts.....

A quick trip to the hospital's emergency department (only 2 hours!), and I'm very happy that my foot is not fractured, and the ligaments are only torn, not severed as I had worried. It's still classified as a Grade 3 strain though :-\

Hobbling around this morning, I manage to dislocate my middle toe on the opposite foot, yet again. Stupid toe - it dislocates way too easily (4th time now). I don't like this weekend much, but... it could have been a lot worse.

I had huge plans - clean the house, finish the garden, mow, reorganise the garage.... We are going to Tasmania next weekend, and I had also planned to drive a fair bit. I really don't know why I have such excellent timing!

I shan't be going upstairs (or down stairs) any time soon!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


nifwlseirff on flickr
I've uploaded the few photos I took at Manifest. I was not up to taking many shots, and not feeling overly comfortable taking 'sniped' photography with that many people around. However, comparing the sniped photos and the posed photos I took, I will be doing much more sniping at future events!

(Not sure 'sniped' is an official word, it just feels right)

Monday, September 17, 2007

An important lesson

The long queue
nifwlseirff on flickr
I learnt something this weekend - where my current boundaries are. I was hoping to spent two long days at Manifest and then on one of the nights, go to Miyako for a yummy Japanese dinner. Unfortunately on both days, I had to leave early due to fibro/sciatic/endo/raynauds pain. I was really upset at missing the two panels I wanted to see on Sunday, and didn't take nearly as many photos as I wanted to. But a black-out during one of the anime screenings showed I was past my limits already. I couldn't completely kill myself because I have to attend work - I wish I had a more flexible schedule! Perhaps, if there hadn't been a 2 hour wait in line for registration, and missing the last bus home after work on Friday night, I would not have been so bad. Many people waited a lot longer for registration on Saturday though (in the photo), so I'm kinda glad I got there early.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Blinding headlights, grrrr.

Walking to the station tonight (after dark) because I missed the bus and didn't want to wait 40 minutes for the next one, I amused (or irritated) myself by noting the rarity of non-blinding headlights. About 80% of headlamps were maladjusted, completely blinding pedestrians. 100% of SUV lights were poorly adjusted, and the most painfully blinding were the 'hoon' cars (lowered, wind resistance kits, blue tinted lights, etc). Not one car lowered their lights, which either indicates that they did not care about pedestrians and left their lights on high beam, or they didn't know how bad their normal lights were. Remind me to leave earlier, it's the only way to avoid a headache from the stupid cars!


42 kilometres walked in 2 weeks... not bad, but I am paying bucket loads for it at the moment. There seems to be a bug circulating again, flu-like symptoms that knock someone out for several days. That's what I feel like. Feverish, everything aching, skin sore to any slight pressure, migraine, sinus, throat... ug. Unfortunately today has eaten up the last full day of my sick leave, and I'm not feeling much better. I could do with a month or two off at this rate. I'm not sure why my manager was surprised at the answer to her question "Are you seeing results from increased walking?" - "Yeah... much more pain". My brain misinterprets nerve signals as pain... increased physical activity == increased nerve activity == higher misinterpretation of those signals in my brain. *sigh* Not to mention the havoc it plays with my screwed up vascular system....

Sunday, September 9, 2007


nifwlseirff on flickr
The pair of galahs that live in a tree next door were hanging around all day today, eating seed, and terrorising the rosellas. The cockatoos managed to chase them away briefly.

The cats seem to be rather upset - I'm alone again for just over 2 weeks. I think Gingy thought we were moving again! Once he realised that we weren't actually packing boxes (he had 'packed' himself into a box last night), he flopped in the middle of the couch, and hasn't moved for most of the day. Lazy.... Smokey on the other hand, hasn't slept all day. I guess he'll be a lump in my bed tonight.

One of the remote switch controls blew with a lamp light-globe last night, and I now have no idea how to switch the AppleTV on!

I also noticed that our rental payment details have finally changed - we used to be with Ray White, but the rental department apparently were only 'renting' space/resources.  They have struck out on their own, now affiliated with Barry Plant.

Health-wise, I'm not doing so well. I've logged enough data now to know that when I increase my activity/exercise, the pain increases. Decrease activity/exercise and pain decreases. The increases and decreases seem to be at the same time, so I'm not sure which is the cause, or where I can break the cycle. Not working does certainly help the Reynaud's symptoms - I'll probably see this more markedly when I take a week off work at the start of October.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


nifwlseirff on flickr
I had a load of energy from Monday through to about 8pm on Thursday. I was also running a temperature, several degrees higher than normal. As I'm normally hugely fatigued (fibro/CFSish), this was a huge novelty, and really exciting. It almost felt as if I was normal, but the pain was still there.

I got heaps done: studying, work, xstitch, gardening and loads of walking. My highest step count on Monday since getting my pedometer (13,859). This was cos I just missed the bus after work, and decided to see how far I could walk until the next bus caught up. About 5.5km... shows how often that bus runs at that time of night! Of course I took the straight route, and the bus wandered through the back streets.

Studying isn't progressing as fast as I would like, it's a lot of busy-work. The teacher in me desperately wants to rewrite the notes! ;>

The flowers and insects are out, even though it's still cold during the nights. Now I really need to work in the garden to encourage the birds. In the front, all I have is a magpie that eats the worms! Today I get a couple more bird feeders so the birds don't feel so exposed. Hopefully I'll find one suitable for nectar eaters.

But first... my second driving lesson....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

More sleep please....

Not enough sleep and way too much pain makes me rather grumpy. Well, duh... A person on a chronic pain support group was venting, as we all do, and received a few replies. I added a couple of suggestions from my recent fibro specialist visit and mentioned that it would be good for this person find their new 'normal', commenting, as a couple of other members did, that taking medication in order to function does not mean they are a junkie. They have decided that we were scolding them and are now leaving the group.... *sigh* A bad week... not enough rest, too much work and internal bleeding all week contributed to massive pain levels. Not having a break from the air conditioner mid-week means my sinuses are torturing me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dinner time

Dinner time
nifwlseirff on flickr

We went to Healesville on the weekend. I was surprised at how many new buildings/exhibits there were since I'd last been there (a few years ago).

Unfortunately there were very few wombats. However, an echidna obliged our request for wombat photos, and roused the poor wombat out of his warm, straw nest. The wombat looked quite confused, had a bite of a carrot, and return to his nest. When he saw the straw wriggling, he decided to stand on it, until the disheveled echidna emerged again. We returned to the koala exhibit as it was nearing dusk to watch a couple of them eating. Photos are on my flickr account.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

You what?!

I can no longer say I have never driven. Eeep. It was in a dual control car, and we spent most of the time on steering and changing gears, slipping in the accelerator/brake at the end. I was doing quite well until my right foot was thrown into the mix - it hurt, lots. The ankle and top of foot cramped immediately from being held at a right angle, and trying to do fine, smooth movements. It still is sore....

Friday, August 17, 2007

July Public transport compensation

Once again, Connex services are below their threshold. Compensation is again available to passengers with monthly, 6 monthly or yearly tickets.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Travelling down from the hills to get to work this morning, I saw the worst smog I've seen for many years. It may be because I used to live in it, and thus didn't notice it. A thick brown-grey haze hung over the suburbs towards the southwest (towards the bay and towards the city), punctuated by dirty smoke columns from factories. Yuck.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Despite the cold temperatures overnight, it seems that spring started this weekend. The plum street trees are starting to blossom. I'm sure they weren't blossoming last Friday! How did it get to be mid-August already?! Hopefully my garden will start to show a few more signs of life than it currently is. Some of the seedlings I planted lost their leaves, but are still green with some new shoots showing. I think a potato has popped a leaf or two through the mulch, but it could just be the weeds (which are growing very fast!) The onion weed in the back lawn is flowering. Someone mentioned they look like snowbells, until I broke the leaf for them to smell. Very pungently onion weed. My hands seem to have completely given up - they are currently fully numb, despite wearing both of my gloves. I've never made so many typos before!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


We hired Pan's Labyrinth last night. It's definitely beautiful and spectacular, in a dark and very sad way. But.. it cut way too close to home.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Specialist update

Another rheumatologist who I saw on Monday, (who is also a specialist in fibromyalgia), confirmed several diagnoses. There is nothing more that can currently be done to help me, that I haven't already tried. He explained that fibro is a collection of symptoms, the best approach being to manage the symptoms as much as possible. They don't know what the causes are, or how to treat them. All patients are different... etc. I've heard all of it before, but this time it was from a specialist in the actual disease. He was convinced, however, that the costochondritis symptoms, Reynauds symptoms, nerve pain and numbness, neuromas, sciatica, sinusitis and migraines are all symptoms of fibro. This makes sense because none of them have responded to 'normal' treatments, and are not showing up in the tests that normally indicate these problems.
Soo... I will continue to manage the symptoms without being able to turn to the medications normally used for those problems. He was happy that I've settled on the simplest combination of medication, at a dosage that seems optimal for me. As I am already using most/all of the complementary techniques, there is nothing else he could think of that would help me. Because I have less-than-optimal kidneys, I can't use the other medication avenue that would likely help (anti-inflammatories). All the tests, including xrays, bone scan and MRIs showed nothing abnormal, which made the rheumatologist very pleased. It shows that I'm not developing arthritis, or that I have any other underlying problems. Just fibromyalgia (and adenomyosis/endometriosis). I wish for a magic pill to make it all better!

Grass-covered old car

"The car's a turd"
umisef on flickr
I was surprised when I saw the old beetle driving around, covered in 'astro-turf' when I was given a lift home one day.

A few months later, it turned up at the workshop and we were able to take a few photos.

It's a shame it's not fully covered in grass.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Inflexible flex-time

Work has taken away my flex-time arrangement that was organised with the director of the writing and L10N group a year ago. At that time I was told that I should record accrued increments of 15 minutes here and there, and then take a day off once I had 8 hours or more. Apparently someone complained about this arrangement, in addition to complaining about the fact that I (am medically required to) work at home one day a week. Only weekend training courses or 2am seminars accrue time-in-lieu/flex-time. I was actually asked to not keep a record of the hours I work, and have been asked to quit the extras I do - social club secretary/finance/etc., editing bits and pieces for various departments. However, I was asked to stay on the OHSE committee because, in their words, "I'm the one who gets things done"..... :-/

So much for the flexibility proclaimed in job postings. The policies do not limit flex-time in this way. This will upset more than just me, many others seem to enjoy a lot more flexibility. I'm really upset by this, as the flex-time arrangement was so I could take a preventative break occasionally, without using leave.

Studying 'in my spare time' is not going so well - I'm typically exhausted from just working.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


nifwlseirff on flickr
I'm dead..... the seed potatoes and the rhubarb decided to sprout and had to be put into the garden *this weekend*, despite the fact that I was not feeling well enough to study :-\

So.... feeling much worse now, but quite accomplished. Trellis is up, passionfruit, blueberry, rhubarb, potatoes, natives and a random couple of my own pots of cuttings have been planted. I ran out of newspaper, and still am unsure what mulch to use on the 'common' areas down the drive. It needs eucalyptus mulch as there are many natives, but that's quite expensive.

I've yet to plant the onions, which are looking very sorry for themselves. The onions, a hanging rosemary and a bay tree are all that's left to plant of my last lot of nursery purchases.

I'd like to get a bunch of small 'food' shrubs for the yard, to put along the back fence. Unfortunately my normal nursery didn't have many when I put in my order. I should visit the Upper Gully market next weekend - they had a great variety of natives for a good price.

The ducks have come back to visit, and these adorable pair of king parrots dropped by. I haven't seen them since - we've been inundated with cockatoos.

Monday, July 16, 2007

New visitors and a splurge

New visitors
nifwlseirff on flickr

I really didn't expect to see a pair of ducks eating seed on our bannister! They stuck around for a couple of hours too!

I splurged today, on an electronic dictionary. I've continued to study Japanese for over a year now, and will stick with it. A good J-E dictionary and a kanji dictionary are way too heavy to carry around, especially when on public transport and suffering chronic pain anyway. I'd put the decision of for many months (at least 6 months), and am glad I did! The exchange rate is quite good for us at the moment! A review is inevitable once it arrives when I figure out the menus (which are, of course, in Japanese).

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Public transport compensation

Public transport, at times sucks. Trains are often late (like last night), or, as happened last week, cancelled due to power failures. I've been lucky, recently, to avoid the older and grungier trains that are not heated, or cooled in summer. Connex, the company who runs the trains in Melbourne, is offering compensation for poor service in June to those people using monthly, six monthly or yearly tickets (less than 92% of trains ran on time). This is the fifth month this year that they have been obliged to pay customers compensation. Reasons given for poor performance include (paraphrased) 'Too many customers', 'Customer base growing faster than expected', 'Unfair speed restrictions', 'People are too slow to board' ... I'm sure their next step will be revise timetables and relax performance requirements.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Blood test results

Blood test, taken 18 June 07.

Shows I currently have a virus (bolded), but otherwise everything is normal, including kidney function.

White cell count 4.0 x 10/L (4.0-11.0)
HGB 138 g/L (115-165)
PLT 280 x 10/L (150-450)
Red cell count 4.9 x 10/L (3.8-5.2)
Eosinophils 0.07 x 10/L (0.01-0.4)
MCV 91 fL (80-98)
HCT 0.42 L/L (0.37-0.47)
MCH 30.1 pg (26-34)
MCHC 332 g/L (300-370)
Neutrophils 1.34 x 10/L (1.8-8.0)
Lymphocytes 1.94 x 10/L (0.5-4.0)
Monocytes 0.56 x 10/L (0.2-1.0)
Basophils 0.06 x 10/L (0.0-0.2)

Sodium 140 mmol/L (135-145)
Potassium 4.0 mmol/L (3.5-5.0)
Chloride 105 mmol/L (95-110)
Bicarb 28 mmol/L (20-32)
Anion gap 10 mmol/L (7-17)
Urea 2.8 mmol/L (2.5-8.5)
Creat 0.05 mmol/L (0.04-0.09)
Total bilirubin 5 umol/L (<22)
ALP 101 IU/L (30-120)
GGT 20 IU/L (6-42)
ALT 23 IU/L (5-30)
Tot protein 72 g/L (65-85)
ALB 38 g/L (34-47)

eGFR = 134

Bento #31

Bento #31
nifwlseirff on flickr

Breakfast: french toast and maple syrup. Lunch: devilled egg, steamed peas and corn, and raw carrot. Snack: 3 types of cheese, twiggy salami, pickled onion and dill pickle.

I wanted a variety on Wednesday (4 July), as I would normally work from home, and needed something comforting to get through the day.

Garden progress

New lemon tree
nifwlseirff on flickr
Despite it being a raining and generally miserable day, I did manage to get the lemon, strawberry and the asparagus crown planted before I got too wet, and the ground got too dangerous. It doesn't look like it, but I did weed a little first! The lawn and the steps ended up getting too muddy and slippery to continue, and the rain worsened over the rest of the day. I've discovered a large hole near the fence - I must contact the neighbours as their chooks kept peeking through the fence at me and trying to eat the recently dug over weeds. I hope the hole was simply caused by a tiny landslide with all the rain we've had recently, and not from either the chooks or a fox digging.

The slope that the lemon is planted on is much steeper than I thought. It was very difficult working on the side where my left ankle was over-stretched - it still hasn't fully recovered. The incredible steepness of the slope does kill some of my plans - it drastically decreases the plant-able areas. Then again, I can put companion shrubs along the fence instead. Still to be planted is the passionfruit, blueberry (which is flowering!), rhubarb, bay tree, rosemary, lemon balm, brown onions (they want a weed free area, I'm sure I can't comply), and a bunch of native plants to pop around the non-food areas. Maybe it will stop raining for long enough tomorrow to get most of these into the ground.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Garden beginnings

Let's see if I can turn this weedy, steep, sloping garden into a productive food area. I sent in an order to my favourite nursery today for a bunch of food plants and herbs, and some associated 'stuff' (manure, compost, mulch, etc.). I'm hoping I can get away without terracing - I do not want to spend money on 'hard' landscaping. I need to get some bags of gravel to fill in those murderous steps, but I can't recall the nursery having any. Bulk delivery is simply not possible - I need to deal with bags. I hope I don't have to do a Bunnings run with the poor little VW and it's not-a-garden-enthusiast driver.

The steps are very steep and dangerous even when they are nicely packed with gravel. Their current state is awful. I've almost fallen down them three times already, and twisted my ankle on them once. I seem to have a habit of spending a load of time, money and energy on rental gardens. I know we aren't going to be here for the rest of our lives, but I guess this is what a hobby is about. Spending energy and money, for enjoyment, and in this case, pain! But it's good pain. Really!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Random musings...

nifwlseirff on flickr

My kitties haven't visited their sleeping spot all day! And I had to work at work on this Wednesday, because I forgot to put my 'work at home' request in before my manager left. Despite the medical specialist recommending this become a weekly occurrence, I have to raise a request each week, and deal with the grumblings each week. I consoled myself by leaving my computer on all day to watch the kitty spot, and the kitties are not playing nice.

I would have had a less stressful start to my day if I had worked from home too! The power for the trains was cut at Belgrave. I raced back to catch the VW-taxi from home to the nearest station (running is not-a-good-idea - still recovering from chest infection and asthma flare). I arrived at work only 5 minutes late. The bus kindly waited an extra minute for the train that was running late.

How would you account for teacher-student or teacher-graduate connections in LinkedIn?
The most sensible one that I could find is colleague, which is actually a correct choice in this particular instance.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Big step

Shedding nifwlseirff on flickr

I took a big step today.... I've enrolled in a TESOL course (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). I miss teaching, and found that I love learning languages. It will take a while to complete this course, then get accredited for teaching within Australia before I do a short stint teaching overseas. But, a weight has slightly 'shifted'. I feel lighter, but I know that studying on top of the demanding full time work I'm currently doing is going to take more of a toll on my poor health. Let's hope it holds up... I'm a little nervous becoming a student again - I spent many years evaluating others! I'm not at all nervous about the teaching part, only about how I'll be graded in this area. IT is much more black and white than evaluating a teacher's performance!


Thanks for the food!
nifwlseirff on flickr
We've built some bird feeders from scrap wood from the bookshelves, and after about a week, the birds discovered it.

 If we wanted, I'm sure we could go through 1kg of seed a day! But, we limit it to 2 scoops, one for each feeder.

The noisiest so far have been the cockatoos, with a flock of 18 being the largest that sat on our balcony. They visit a couple of times a day.

A pair of galahs have just discovered the seed supply, and a large number of crimson rosellas drop by throughout the day.

A somewhat confused magpie also picks out his favourite seed every day or two, a little strange for a meat eater!

Pigeons usually sit below the feeders and pick at the seed thrown over the edge, typically by the messy cockatoos.

I even saw a baby kookaburra this weekend. I do miss the little finches, there aren't enough shrubs for them to feel safe.

The cockatoos are quite bold, even taking Smokey for a walk on his harness didn't bother them (or Smokey!). They just ignored each other.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Chronic pain

I've come across this list on several support groups, and have no idea who the original author is. But.... it's resonating. Especially today. People at my workplace could do with reading this.

Tips For Dealing With People In Pain

  1. People with chronic pain seem unreliable (we can’t count on ourselves). When feeling better we promise things (and mean it) when in serious pain; we may not even show up.
  2. An action or situation may result in pain several hours later, or even the next day. Delayed pain is confusing to people who have never experienced it.
  3. Pain can inhibit listening and other communication skills. It’s like having someone shouting at you, or trying to talk with a fire alarm going off in the room. The effect of pain on the mind can seem like attention deficit disorder. So you may have to repeat a request, or write things down for a person with chronic pain. Don’t take it personally, or think that they are stupid.
  4. The senses can overload while in pain. For example, noises that wouldn’t normally bother you, seem to much.
  5. Patience may seem short. We can’t wait in a long line; can’t wait for a long drawn out conversation.
  6. Don’t always ask, "How are you" unless you are genuinely prepared to listen it just points attention inward.
  7. Pain can sometimes trigger psychological disabilities (usually very temporary). When in pain, a small task, like hanging out the laundry, can seem like a huge wall, to high to climb over. An hour later the same job may be quite OK. It is sane to depressed occasionally when you hurt.
  8. Pain can come on very quickly and unexpectedly. Chronic pain people appear to arrive and fade unpredictably to others.
  9. Knowing where a refuge is, such as a couch, a bed, or comfortable chair, is as important as knowing where a bathroom is. A visit is much more enjoyable if the chronic pain person knows there is a refuge if needed. A chronic pain person may not want to go anywhere that has no refuge (e.g. no place to sit or to lie down).
  10. Small acts of kindness can seem like huge acts of mercy to a person in pain. Your offer a pillow or a cup of tea can be a really big thing to a person who is feeling temporarily helpless in the face of encroaching pain.
  11. Not all pain is to locate or describe. Sometimes there is a body wide feeling of discomfort, with hard to describe pains in the entire back, or in both legs, but not in one particular spot you can point to. Our vocabulary for pain is very limited, compared to the body's ability to feel varieties of discomfort.
  12. We may not have a good "reason" for the pain. Medical science is still limited in its understanding of pain. Many people have pain that is not yet classified by doctors as an officially recognized "disease". That does not reduce the pain, - it only reduces the ability to give it a label, and have you believe us.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Of mochi and ramune

The Asian grocer in Knox city gave me free sesame mochi last weekend! Maybe it was cos I bought many other yummy things.

I found out that the reason that no-one seems to import strawberry ramune is that it never sold. Apparently they once had a case that went past expiry cos no-one knew what it was! I'd buy a lot of it, if I could find it! All you can find these days is plain, melon and peach ramune. Oh... and don't bother with ramune in the plastic bottles - it is completely flat and contains artificial stuff... the best ramune is very lightly flavoured and fully glass. They are annoyingly heavy for carrying home on public transport. If I could find strawberry ramune, it would definitely be worth the sacrifice!

I still haven't found the tiny creme brulee which seem to be popular in the bento groups. I shall keep looking though.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

LJ oddness

nifwlseirff on flickr

I'm apologising if you are currently experiencing LJ oddness in your friends list because of me - I'm adding past blog entries into LJ. The database on my website went kaput, and I only have the raw text. LJ doesn't want to play with backdating properly, so it's a lovely manual process. I still have half of 2002 entries to add.... Should be done by the end of the coming weekend though. This sunset was from May, when I was house-sitting.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Photos around Tecoma

nifwlseirff on flickr
I've uploaded some photos, including some of around the new house in Tecoma.

The garden really needs work, and I'm too sick to do anything about it. Very annoying that!

We have bird feeders on the back verandah, and I am quite enamoured with our feathery visitors.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Still awfully sick...

Ear infections have cleared up, but the nasty bronchitis maintains its stranglehold.

Friday, June 15, 2007


I've scored the most lovely head cold, double ear infection and bad chest infection... all at once! Am not impressed. However, I've discovered that the docs just up the road from me weren't actually being demolished - they are renovating. Apparently one of them there specialises in complex cases. And, there is a pathology almost at the top of my very long driveway. Good area for me to be in! Now I just need a chemist to move in.

The chemist that I went to gave me generic medication without even asking - I've since been told that is now required by law?! The main difference that I can see between Augmentin Duo Forte and Curam 875/125, is that Curam uses sodium laureth sulphate as a filler - it's a detergent!!

So that this post is not just another health whinge, I just noticed on that they are using the Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary. Funky! It doesn't seem to contain all that many entries, but then again, it is a beta. I found it interesting that they seem to be using simple English for their definitions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


A very bad cold is ripping through my workplace, and my family - possibly a bronchitis variant.

It seems to linger for a while, and doesn't respond quickly to sleep or the usual cold/bronchitis medicines.

I can't remember clearly a winter where everyone succumbed to the cold/flu/bronchitis bug in such a short timespan. Especially when they have already taken flu shots, even though I know those are ineffectual against non-flu bugs.

Looks like it will be a long and sniffly winter....

Kitty cam

My webcam is regularly on when my computer is on, usually pointed at the desk that has been appropriated by the cats for the purpose of sleeping. It means I can watch them while I'm at work and it doubles as a security camera.

Wake up image

I don't think the size of crop fields in Australia ever registered with me. Having been through Germany, and seeing small fields with tree wind breaks, the Australian fields on the news tonight shocked me. Dead flat, the soil a lifeless grey with no green, a couple of trees on the distant horizon, being plowed because there has been a recent storm which put water back into a nearby creek. Now I understand why they need to spray pesticides from planes - the fields are simply too big, and why they need to add manufactured fertilizer - the soil is too lifeless. I don't understand how the farming industry/government/the majority of the public think this is sustainable and the best way of producing food. I need to put more work into my own garden, even though it is a rented garden.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A common phenomemon?

My workplace decided to run 'heart health' checks this week. I was interested only to see how my cholesterol changed after a month on the ketosystem diet. It seems I'm one of the lucky ones where food doesn't seem to affect my cholesterol levels. Prior to the diet I was on the low side of low, now I'm on the low side of normal. Some people's cholesterol skyrocket, after being on the ketosystem diet.

Having established that I have a good picture of my complex health problems, the doctor noted that so many people with complex and chronic pain/illnesses have some kind of lengthy trauma in their history, and asked if I had been abused. She's the first health professional that has offered this theory, even though it's becoming much more accepted. Many patients with a history of abuse and/or post traumatic stress present with very difficult, intertwined problems. However, she is not alone in reiterating that when people say "It's in your head", it really is - the neurological signals are screwed up, and the pain receptors never turn off. The brain burns through some chemicals, leaving little for the rest of the body to use (ie. magnesium), yet can't use other chemicals, letting them build up. This causes secondary reactions throughout the body, which in turn snowball.

Medical professionals flounder with each case, treating the end-symptoms, and hardly ever finding the root cause. A treatment that might actually retrain one person's neurological system, won't work on another.....

The brain is such a foggy, misunderstood medical area....

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Home is where the garden is...

I read something recently in my random travels around self-sufficiency blogs:

... "wherever you decide to call home… make it YOUR HOME… whether you are going to be living there for 1 month or 30 years."

I was sick yesterday, and found that the writing section was playing with the Myers-Briggs personality test. I'm still very firmly entrenched as an INFP (however, I was INFJ when teaching!) One description of INFP personalities mentioned that "their home is their refuge".

When moving photos from my website to Flickr yesterday, I noticed that the gardens received less attention in houses where I was not happy. I'm definitely happy with this house - I've already started on the garden! But, the garden needs so much work, and I have so little energy :-\ I promise I'll get photos up as soon as the packing boxes are put into the garage, and as soon as I've fixed my poor computer, which is very ill, possibly requiring a reinstall...

Monday, June 4, 2007

Mmmmm, bubbly!

I feel like I'm breathing through a sticky membrane. Looks like I'll be fighting chest colds all winter, starting with the always fun, fluid-on-the-lungs. A doctor once went "Oooo. Bubbly!" when listening to my lungs.... I actually find this reasonable easy to deal with, apart from the coughing. I learnt how to 'not cough' because when I had bronchitis and costochondritis regularly as a kid - it hurt too much, so I just stopped coughing. This means that now, colds sometimes skip the bronchitis stage to go directly to fluid on my lungs.

The treatment for fluid on the lungs is having a physiotherapist thumping (and bruising) your back, making you cough up the fluid. Sometimes docs will give anti-biotics to stop secondary infections. If you can force yourself to cough, you can skip the expensive physio. With fibromyalgia, coughing is even more painful and tiring, and chest thumping is really not possible.

Gingy was hilarious this morning - we have a bunch of plush/funky magnets on the side of the fridge (courtesy of an unpacked box last night). Smokey, from the top of the fridge, smacked the teddy magnet to the floor. Gingy, with a much longer reach then decided to try to remove the rest. We moved the magnets down, so he decided to attack them from below. Everything in our house is a cat toy you see.....

Anyhow... I go to put on the vaporiser and crawl back to sleep... and to cough.. yes... must cough...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Feeding pain....

Hormones are not fun. Despite having an IUD that's meant to stop all periods, my body overrides it.. twice a month or more! Ovulatory pain and bleeding is sharp and over with quickly. It's only something that has been happening in the last 2 years. I'm hoping this isn't an indication of new endometriomas or adhesions. I should go and get checked out again at the end of the year... I hope I don't need operation #5.... The regular progesterone pill, taken continuously, limited periods to once every three months. But it sent my blood pressure sky high, enough that several doctors recommended blood pressure medication. Take me off the pill, and my blood pressure is on the low side of perfect. Guess which option I picked.

The Mirena IUD seems to be loosing it's effectiveness, perhaps it's burning through it's progesterone too quickly?. Each month is heavier, feeding the adenomyomas ('blood blisters') inside the muscle wall.... causing more and more pain. There is, however, less pain (and blood) than without the Mirena.

The pain and tension in the abdomen triggers the ever-present sciatica and costo, which transfers up my neck, into my head for increased sinus/migraine activity. What an interconnected mess... Add in the other current undiagnosed medical problems, and I'm a complete whimpering wreck. I am still house sitting, and have yet to set up my room at home. None of my boxes have been unpacked, although some have been rifled through to find necessities that I forgot to label in the chaos before the move (current xstitch project, Japanese books, iPod and PS2 cables, cat blankets, etc). I return this Saturday, to start unpacking and settling in.

Kitties will then have access to sunshine, because that room is currently off limits - it contains their favourite forbidden climbing toy (an upright mattress). Right at this moment, I want to be home, unpacked, off this darn diet and curled up with a hot chocolate, Gingy, my PS2 and three big heating pads. This acute pain just sucks all my energy, motivation, sensibleness.... and it just keeps worsening over the week... Somehow, I still manage to (be present at) work... unfortunately work makes the time pass slower.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I am alive.... kinda...

Work is insane - I haven't even had time to catch up on the web comics I normally read, let alone blogs :-\ House-sitting means I get to work later and subsequently leave work later, and don't have access to my own computer. I'm slowly increasing my daily step count, and trying not to type more than is necessary at work/home -it's causing numbness in hands/arms. This obviously results in less time on the computer. You can hear the freeway from where I'm sleeping. I normally wear earplugs so that noise doesn't keep me awake, but many chemists aren't stocking the super-soft-rounded foam ear plugs. I hope I don't have to resort to buying them online. Maybe I'll visit Chadstone on the weekend.

Seems like all specialists have a waiting list of at least 3 months... rheumy appointment has been booked. Looking for the source of the always-present inflammation, and the worsening numbness. I picked the rheumatologist who's bio mentioned they enjoy cases which allow them to explore the breadth of the medical field. Let's hope they can help.

The ketosystem diet (ordered by the naturopath) started with a bang - 5kg in a week. Since then (2.5 weeks), even though I decreased calorie intake and increased exercise since the middle of the second week, my weight isn't shifting, and neither are my measurements. It's quite disappointing. I also found out that my stomach can not deal with Splenda. It's worse than phenylalanine, which sends me to sleep and provides a massive headache upon waking.

Side effects of the ketosystem diet == increased: numbness, itchyness, eczma, fatigue, sinus pain, muscle/tendon pain, muscle twitching, eye fatigue. This diet was meant to kick my metabolism to burn more fat than carbs, but I don't think the side effects are worth it. Even though my calorie intake is very low, I am not hungry any more. I still crave sweets and carbs, but I haven't cheated once. Very pleased with myself because of this. 1.5 weeks of this diet left (I'm only on it for a short time because of the strain it puts on poor kidneys). It will be interesting to see what my cholesterol is after this month - it's normally on the low end of low (very healthy).

Monday, April 23, 2007

Bento #28

Bento #28
nifwlseirff on flickr
April bento. Chicken marinaded in soy, garlic and ginger, steamed broccoli and carrots, a very rich chocolate desert from King Island Dairy, and a teddy bear molded egg. Strawberry oreo and a bit of easter egg for snacks. The lighting in our house is very bad, and the flash blanks details out.

Tired update

We have moved... and we have visited the vets three times in 4 days, twice to the emergency vet. Luckily, all three visits have been unwarranted, albeit expensive. Kitties aren't eating happily yet, and are fascinated by closed doors, stairs and moths!

There is so much wildlife in the hills, unfortunately that includes many insects. Anyone heard of an 1.5 inch long wasp?!

We don't have phone or internet, but have unpacking to do, and a huge sleep deficit to remedy. I didn't think I had it in me to pull all-nighters these days, but with sick cats, and a marathon packing session, we did it. I had V (energy drink) for the first time in many years, sickly sweet, like liquid gummy bears, but it kept me going. I am paying for it dearly now though!

Huge thanks to Paul for helping on the day of the move - we are very grateful!

 Left at the old place is some cleaning, and a pile of stuff in the garage (and some stuff to go to the tip). We hire a van today (I don't think the chop-top bug can handle long planks of wood), and I'll clean on Wednesday. Still haven't found a gardener to do the final garden tidy :-\

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The bog of eternal stench.....

There's been a little snag with the new place. Unfortunately the master bedroom's carpet has the most awful and exceptionally strong smell, which permeates the house - baby vomit (or the other end). Yay. The agent suggested for us to try deodorising it, so we hired the best carpet steamcleaner we could find, who cleaned, deodorised and put an antibacterial treatment through it. The experienced cleaner (who has been doing this for 20+ years!) wasn't hopeful. *sigh*

If the smell is still there on Tuesday, it won't go away with any further treatment, and that room will be completely unusable.

Friday, April 6, 2007

On packing and moving

About 1/8 of the house is now packed, with photos taken of the important things (books/DVDs etc).

Kitchen, garage and half the books/music haven't been touched yet, so there is a lot to go.

Most of the utility companies now have online connection/disconnection forms, incredibly convenient to me ! I estimate it saved a good 10 minutes each for the two water companies. Unfortunately AGL's site doesn't want to work in Firefox, and I refuse to use IE, so I had to do it the old fashioned way, using the telephone.

The moving company is booked for 7-8am on Saturday 21st April. *too early*

We received the standard lease termination checklist from our agent.
Steps 5 to 25 inclusive were not done by the landlord/agent prior to us moving in. 
The photos the agent took even show the incredible amount of hard rubbish in the garage and yard, the illegal gas stove installed in the garage and that the carpets and windows were not cleaned.

They also sent a request to schedule some public inspection times. The only times they listed were from 9am-5:30pm on a weekday, and 9am-2pm on a Saturday.  As we can't take any extra time off (18 annual leave days have been spent on this house in 1.5 years for maintenance and the extra cleaning on moving in). We've offered 8-9pm on a Tuesday and Wednesday and 2-3pm on a Saturday (not the 21st).

We still haven't heard if they will actually do the repairs they received a request for at the start of March.

The end of the month can't come soon enough! Only problem is, I get less than a week at our new place before leaving to house-sit for a month!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Bento #27

Bento #27
nifwlseirff on flickr
Thai green curry chicken, fruit, rice, lemon so I drink more water, and some sweet nibbles from Germany.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sugar syrup

I absolutely love bubble tea. :-) Any idea of a recipe for or where to get the flavoured sugar syrup that goes into the tea? I do have the tapioca pearls, and straws, but haven't found a syrup recipe. My preferred flavours are citrus, pineapple and strawberry green tea and a milky coffee. Ta!

Monday, March 26, 2007


Walker tracker is a fast, lightweight, online walking log. I don't know why many other 'health' sites don't have a program as usable as this one is. If you join, let me know, or use my invite link!

The Éowyn challenge is used by many Tolkien fans to help them to become fit. I'm at the end of day two on the path to Rivendell. Your milestones along the path can be noted at the shield database, although this interface is a little quirky. There are a number of online support groups, and you can check where you are on the path, thanks to a tool provided by Barrow Downs.

My new pedometer is fantastic - it's an Omron HJ-133 which can be worn around the neck, slip into a pocket or even left in a bag. It is rather pricey (about AU$60), and does not have the traditional belt clip. The safety clip is quite unusual, but works very well. I am getting quite accurate step counts, which the other two cheapies I tried didn't manage. Definitely a good purchase!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Telecommuting rebates

The US are considering a bill which encourages telecommuting to work. I think this is a great way to go. Now for Australia (and managers the world over) to promote this! It would work well in Australia because of the expansive suburban sprawl around most of the major cities.

Cats' eyes

What do you do when a cat has had a claw sheath embedded into their bottom eyelid? Our guys are beating each other up quite badly, and this time Gingy really lashed out at Smokey. Smokey was running around with this huge claw sheath seemingly sticking out of his eye! Luckily it was only about where we have tear ducts. It's still weeping/bleeding though. I guess I keep an eye on it and go up to the vet if it gets puffy.

Insane weather

I hate this changeable weather. It was 37 degrees Celsius and horridly muggy yesterday, but very cool today. I now have the heater on as it is under 20 inside, yet when I got home yesterday it was over 30 inside and I needed the cooler on! My ceramic bird feeder broke in yesterday's or last night's wind. I hope the weather is a little more stable (and less hot) for a while.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Exam grumbings

I still haven't received my JLPT results from the exam I did in November. Most of the rest of the world seemed to receive the results in February, and I think Perth might have received them in the last week or so. I can't connect to the Japan Seminar House website either (the people that run the Melbourne test). I hope they haven't dropped of the face of the earth!

Monday, March 19, 2007

IT management commentary

There are often discussions about IT management on Slashdot, but few stand out. Today's thread did, where there are some very pertinent comments. Dilbert style management is a contagion, once competent people with great ideas are promoted to management, they are brainwashed into the fold of incompetency. I've noticed this happening in many companies recently, especially where upper management want the moon handed to them on a silver platter in a butterfly-year time span, no delays allowed. IT friends are getting more and more jaded with incompetent and uncaring management, and many are opting to leave the industry. I find it strange that management seem to be blind to this trend.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Some good news - rental found!

After searching for a new rental for 6 months, we were approved for a place in the hills (Tecoma)!

I place a deposit tomorrow, luckily there is one bus line between our current place and the new place, even if the two houses are almost at either end of the route. Obviously the paperwork will need to wait, but the agent and landlord seemed happy with that.

It will mean some changes... public transport to work for both of us (it's almost directly at a station - so convenient) which will help my language learning no end. The length of time needed for me to get to work on PT in the worst case will be dramatically reduced.

I will be able to drop into a tai chi studio on the way home from work, but no more hydrotherapy pool access.

There are more (evening) restaurants/take away places nearby compared to the current place! Don't know if they are any good though.

It won't be any harder to get to Monash Hospital for the new round of neurological investigations (I think they need to test if I have a brain), it will take longer of course.

The agent seems to be good, organised and to care about the state of the place before handing it to us. They are part of a chain, so may have standards to abide by.

 I will not be sorry to see the back of my current agent/landlord. I'll also not be sorry to hear the end of the freeway traffic which is bugging me awfully at all times. We were inside during a Saturday at the new place (the hills are busy on the weekends), with the back door open when a train went past, the noise level was less than our current place with everything shut!

We get the keys mid-April, and return our current place at the start of May. We'll have about two weeks to move into the new place before I move out to house-sit for a month (May)! I won't be there to settle the cats in properly :-\

Unfortunately there are loads of work deadlines in April and May for projects that I'm leading, so I can't take a bunch of time off to pack/move/be here for maintenance/cleaning/etc. Also need to shop for some new furniture to replace some rather dead pieces!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sick, quick update

I finally succumb to the office coldy bug (with a lovely dose of food poisoning and an appearance of a migraine).... just as many projects are starting at work....

Osteo suggested a diagnosis avenue to pursue for my numb/tingly/painful hands (and feet). Why the neuro didn't suggest it, I have no idea.

We knew there were possums living in the lounge room wall - it looks, or rather sounds like one has moved to or a new one has taken up residence in a new wall after a fight inside the roof cavity last night. Of course, it has to be my bedroom wall. This house is so badly built - there is a hole between the original house and the extension that was left open to the roof cavity and the top of the wall cavity. When we moved here, only birds were inside the wall. Now it looks like multiple possum families are in the roof and throughout the walls. Of course, agent hasn't responded to our maintenance request yet.

Keep fingers crossed for us - we applied for a rental house on Tuesday. I should know by the end of tomorrow if we get it. I'm alone  until the end of the month, the kitties are already pining and wanting attention the entire time that I'm home!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Sorry for the lack of updates....

Huge deadline last week; even more insanity on the next project, currently being planned; and my hands being awful with any extended computer use (a la my job!) - means I am not writing/checking here much at present. Sorry!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Shadow IT?

There is a Slashdot news item discussing an article about shadow IT areas within a company - users who know more than the IT department (or who think they do). I found the comments very interesting, as I'm in that position at the moment. Sure, many don't know how to administer their computers. I've had a Windows box at home for year now, without a single virus or malware (only hardware failures :-\). I do have good debugging skills (needed for how electronic equipment behaves around me - I crashed my old camera when it was off!). When I say there is a problem with hardware or some software causing crashes, the common practice is to wipe/reinstall without even looking at the logs, then stress test on the CPU in an air conditioned office.

I can repeatedly trigger the crash, however it still happens randomly, and is either hardware related (my office is not air conditioned) or one particular piece of software with which I can crash the machine when I change a setting. It means I am running my old computer, which is slow, is needed for other purposes, and has a hard drive problem (it doesn't like heat either).

I'm not sure why many companies seem to be rather Mac-phobic. We are all forced to use corporate dinosaur-era (and sized) software...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bento #26

Bento #25
nifwlseirff on flickr
My first character! Again I was short on time, so this is mostly a raw bento.

Rice with chive, carrot and capsicum decoration in the bottom tier; curried egg, steamed gyoza, tomato, carrot, cucumber, capsicum, blueberries in the top tier, almonds and dried cranberries in the side box; salad dressing and a green tea kit kat (my favourite!).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The physical effects of childhood abuse

New Scientist has just published an article about why childhood trauma beings ill health later on. My doctors are desperately searching for a cause of the raised inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein) in my blood, I guess I've found it. Yet another reason to hate my father - kidney disease and now the inflammatory conditions. If I wasn't in so much pain I'd be furious.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mmmm, naps... reported recently that taking naps reduces heart attack risk. I can't find the original source online, but I'll use any excuse to take a midday nap! ;> A shame my workplace won't approve such a policy!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bento #25

Bento #24
nifwlseirff on flickr
Another relatively quick bento today for breakfast and lunch.

Stir fried veggies, boiled egg, gyoza, rice and soy sauce. Oatmeal with cinnamon, vanilla and blueberries. Almonds, dried cranberries, green tea kit kat and strawberry kit kat for snacks. Mini thermos contains very hot herbal tea.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Web hacking....

Gah... tweaking stylesheets and graphics is sooo fiddly. has received a much needed update and a little expansion. [edit] Entries from my external blog are slowly being migrated over - you'll see the tag cloud changing shape as new entries are put in (backdated appropriately of course).

Friday, February 9, 2007

Sakura restaurant - Glen Waverley

About 10 years ago I went to the Sakura Japanese restaurant in Glen Waverley for the first time. The food was delicious back then. Unfortunately, that was not the case a couple of weeks ago. I had time to kill before an appointment, dinner tempted my tummy and I ordered a three small entree dishes. I aimed for variety. Tempura should be light, fluffy and melt in your mouth. This tasted cheesy and was quite tough - think the oil was too old? I may have been spoilt by a very yummy tuna tatake in the city, but the one I received at Sakura was drowned in a very heavy-handed soy sauce, raw and tasteless. Sashimi offcuts perhaps? The tonkatsu was the toughest cutlet of any meat that I have ever eaten. The daikon and carrot pickles must have fermented too long - you couldn't taste the vegetables through the vinegar. Even the inexpensive sashimi offcut salad from the Japanese takeaway place in Southbank was incredible in comparison. It was extremely disappointing and I shan't be going back to Sakura any time soon. Hopefully the chefs were just having a bad day.....

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Major flare...

And things continue to go wrong this week... my right thumb is alternately convulsing, sending firey nerve pain signals or numb. The dryer sensor seems to have broken, and I am desperately hoping all my work clothes are ok - they are currently too hot to handle. My immune system is giving in to all sorts of new problems. The future is unravelling, and I go to find pain killers....

Friday, February 2, 2007

Bento #24

Bento #26
nifwlseirff on flickr
Work has been hectic, and the heat still hasn't disappeared, so I'm not as organised as I'd like to be in the mornings!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Short update

Working from home mid-week is good. However, I inevitably work later than normal, and stretch the work out over more hours so I can have longer breaks (pacing, as the neuro prescribed). I think it would help more if it was more often than once a week. Thursdays seem very odd now....

An interesting eco-article from UK politicians slamming Vista, not because of the software, but the hardware that needs to be upgraded. I shan't be moving to Vista at home, and will hopefully switch to MacOS when something cheaper than their tower Pro supports two monitors. I'm amazed the mac-mini doesn't support two monitors properly yet. Hmmph. Given how old the games I normally purchase are, and the alternative gaming platforms I now have, I shouldn't actually need Vista at home. If, on the other hand, work moves to Vista and my work laptop remains unfixed....

Friday, January 12, 2007

Review - is a fantastic set of podcasts for many levels of Japanese language learners. Since starting a year or so ago, the team has grown substantially, they've added a heap of printable resources for a low membership cost, and interactive learning tools for premium members (high cost). New to the site is an affiliate program ;> However, this does not change my opinion or use of them, but it did spur me to make this post which has been sitting at the back of my mind for a while. Currently I use the basic member tools as I find it easier to remember what I see (as opposed to hearing only). The podcasts can be subscribed to within iTunes, or mass downloaded using Torrent via the Japanesepod101 website. The lessons are well structured, varied, high quality and quite funny at times. It's useful to start with beginners, shortly afterwards, adding survival phrases and culture classes for variety. Make sure you check out the lyrics information of each .mp3 lesson in iTunes - it often (always?) has a transcript and/or vocabulary! I find these lessons easier to remember than Pimsleur lessons, but use both audio resources as they supplement each other. I also use the text and workbooks: Genki from Japan Times, and Japanese in Mangaland, plus a few dictionaries, kanji books, mnemonics and flash cards. As I don't have regular lessons, finding time (or discipline) to study regularly is somewhat difficult. 10-20 minute audio lessons are easier to squeeze in than a chapter of a textbook, especially when travelling. I usually listen to each lesson twice - once without the extra material, once again later with the printable materials to reinforce what I learnt. A fantastic resource! I only wish there was one available for learning German at such a high quality!Campaign 2 - Banner 3

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New photos....

I finally got around to putting the last 4-5 months of photos up. It's much easier now that I have my new yummy camera, so I hope I'll be posting more regularly. All are on my Flikr account

Thursday, January 4, 2007

On cutting ties

Blame nobody. Yes, some parents are awful, but once we are adults, it is our decision to keep on suffering or get professional help. My doctors urged me to cut all ties with my parents. I have not seen them in 15 years. I hear they are well and I feel content.

 Words to live by, choreographer FUMIHITO (Fumihito Tanaka), 38, Japan Times article, Dec 2006