Poison Cures Cancer Sunday, Mar 7 2010 

I hate this migraine. It’s dragging into its second week, and I’m falling behind on everything. I’m still ahead on Gateau Method posts—only just—but I’m struggling with everything else.

Some people find me forbidding at the best of times, but these past few days, well—picture Frank Langella with a couple of weeks’ beard, playing the lead role in an André the Giant biopic. A casual glance was enough to resolve my first encounter with Dane, our neighbour-to-be. I can see why he’d creep Mim out, but the guy’s at worst seriously small-fry, without the initiative to turn it into a life of petty crime—the kind of pond-scum whose day consists of bad, homegrown riffs on his two-stringed guitar, sandwiched in between cut-price cigarettes and panty-raids of opportunity.

Wow. He’s probably nowhere near that bad, just lonely and poorly socialised. I feel like a cheap Raymond Chandler knockoff now.

The smallest things are suddenly jarring. Yesterday’s visit to Carpet Court played out in three-minute stretches, thanks to a stomach-churning mix of poor ventilation and vinyl outgassing. I got five minutes into the premiere of the V remake tonight before flicking channel; television is a troubling cacophony of over-stimulus and hucksterism.

It’s weird, though, what soothes my migraine. I can’t take aspirin or ibuprofen, and panadeine just inflames my liver. But old Ancient Warfare podcasts and Älymystö’s Atomgrad seem to melt away the hurt.

Finnish industrial ambient noise—for the temporary relief of pain. Odd.


A Bit of Everything Sunday, Feb 21 2010 

Dave has been encouraging me to write for the blog again, but to be brutally honest I have been so crabby lately I have not felt well or creative enough to read or watch TV let alone write (my own fault, I have Coeliac Disease and had a meal with gluten in it the other day and have been so ill since… aaarrrrggghhh, I know better, it was a dumb mistake). Today seems to be a better day so I thought I might give it a go and say Hi as well as a bit more background on where we are, how we got here and the plans for the future.

As you may have read in Dave’s previous blog entries I got sick about 2 1/2 years ago… (although it feels like an eternity), when a few things that had been niggling at me seemed to have blown out of all proportion at the one time… The first and seeming to most physically obvious was the Adenomyosis which seriously screwed with my ability to go out and the accompanying Anemia was just down right rude…. at the same time it seemed then that my Graves Disease that had been in remission thought it might be fun to throw it’s hat in the ring and then go nutso, burn out and change to Hashimotos,consequently I am more tired and crabby than normal as I constantly loose my voice, have a persistent cough as my Thyroid Gland is 5 times the size it should be and I can’t shift this weight and can not partake in my one love, singing…. Then just because I was not having enough fun, when we got my neck X- Rayed to check how the previous break was going as my pain level was higher than usual it turns out I have a new break and extra bony growth at c1,c2,c3 in my spine….  YAY operation 3 on the books…. CRAP!!!! not again…. Thanks to the long standing undiagnosed Coeliac Disease (thanks to all those doctors who thought I was making it up (insert SARCASM here) and a real thank you to Dr Richard Hope for taking the time to do the biopsy to find it), I suffer from GORD annoying painful and not improving my tolerance level at all….

We still have no idea why my liver started to fail last year… all I know is I don’t have any nasty blood diseases, but other than that it remains a mystery… one I would hope we can solve sooner rather than later… the pain is still there and horrid…. Oh and that St George Hospital is dreadfully understaffed and falling apart…. but that is another post later on….

So I am now on the Disability Pension, Dave is on the Carers Pension and we are broke, but together with a plan to get through it, so that is the main thing.

Due to our sensational NSW Public Health System (take note of MORE sarcasm here), things are slow, appointments are months and months away, surgery waiting lists are even longer… Thankfully my appointment with my new Endocrinologist in Orange NSW is set for the 29th April 2010 and will be the start to getting things back on track and moving forward.

When I started to get really ill I was working as National Call Centre Manager in Sydney CBD, sadly when the doctor said your insulin level is on 102 (it should be under 10), your Thyroid is a mess and your neck is not good, the decision was made that I needed to leave work and make a lifestyle change… never a better example to make sure you have Income Protection and Health Insurance… stupidly I had neither, if I ever get back to work they will be on the priority list.

Anyway, ever since we have been on a very tight budget…. and after a string of flatmates, one who was a complete disaster and an international student who was more trouble than he was worth, we decided to move away from Sydney. Cowra NSW was our chosen destination, not too far from Sydney and reasonably priced.

The house we are currently living in is a nightmare, stinking hot and small… we can’t open the windows too much as the cats will get out and there are no screens and the rocket scientist that built this place put 8′ Corrugated Iron fences all the way around it… therefore our yard averages 56 degrees by 10am…. icky…. even if we could use the yard the grassed areas are overgrown with “Cats Head Burrs” really nasty and very painful… Short of hiring heavy machinery and removing the top 2″ soil there is not much we can do about it, so it kinda feels like we are trapped in here as finances are too tight to go out much and we don’t like to leave the cats alone in the heat….

Dave has taken to spending his days planted in front of his computer and I spend mine bored to the point of insanity alternating between the TV, computer, cleaning and harassing Dave to play board games and keep me company.

Due to funds situation going out is really not an option right now….

By now you might be thinking well stop bitching about it and do something… well we are not going to do anything to improve this house as we are moving again in about 10 days… YAY… We have had to wait for the settlement to go through on the purchased property not many other towns you can buy a house on a huge block for under 100k…. This dump is only a temporary stopover… it just really started getting to us both for the last few weeks…

I am so excited…

When we go into town, I drive past the new place on a regular basis making plans for what we want to do… it is going to look so much better when we get the gardens done, do some cleaning and get rid of the shed out the back (it is made of Asbestos, it needs to go and we will replace it)… a new kitchen and bathroom as well a paved entertaining area with a gazebo and BBQ…

We are going to get the cats an outdoor enclosure for their relaxation and enjoyment (yes they are SO spoilt), plant out Vege Gardens in raised beds, a Grey Water System, Solar Panels for electricity and Solar Hot Water, fruit  trees and masses of veges from Diggers Club, a $20 pack of seeds will provide way more than enough veg for us to live on and when we have some more cash we are looking to get the pack with the fruit trees as well… all this will be organic produce. The left over produce we can not eat will go to local charity groups to give to those less fortunate than us…

As well as the fruit, veg and water systems we are looking into Aquaponics… this is REALLY exciting, not only will it be great for the veg, but also for the fresh fish… yummo!

For an all rounded yard we are also looking at 6 Chooks and 2 Ducks for eggs and fertilizer as well as weed and bug control and 2 Miniature Goats. We have picked out a swanky new chook house for the poultry, although we are still searching for the plans for the perfect Goat Stable. I spoke to council last Friday and they have no regs against it… so mini farm it is….

I really can’t wait to see the looks on the neighbours faces when we take the goats for a walk down the street…. LOL..

Thankfully the yard is huge and there is more than enough room for everything, Dave is researching the process for making Cheese from the goats milk. The goal is to be primarily self sufficient with the least amount of chemicals and toxins around us as possible.

Well I am beginning to tire again (can’t wait to get back to the specialist so as to get some direction and answers). I have been so ill, tired and weak the last few months it has been crazy…

but before I go I just wanted to thank a few people for helping us get this far…

Claire, Dan, Ali, Robbie and Belinda, thank you so much for your help, support and muscle with the move. We would not have made it without you!

Liz H…. What can I say???  Thank You does not seem enough… you have made all this possible, we owe you so much and will never be able to repay your goodness and kindness… WE LOVE YOU!!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

As for those supposed friends and family who have ignored our cry for help and are no where to be seen/heard from when we were at our lowest and it looked like we could go no lower and then kicked us when we were down… Thank You! we now know who NOT to waste our time on…. Karma will deal with you in it’s own way… We have moved on…

Well onwards and upwards to the future guys… I can’t wait to add more stories and photos of the progress and renovations to the new place and the ever expanding family…

Also keep an eye out for our cooking and kitchen stories… it should be fun learning and experimenting with more Gluten Free cooking and Organic Gardening.

Another big thank you to the beautiful and wonderful Claire for sending me a link to the following Blog –  Tartelette …. It is fabulous and through this one have found a few more that I have found informative and inspiring….

Gluten Free Girl

Artisan Bread

Pork, Knife and Spoon

Well time for a nanna nap for me now and then going next door to borrow their pony to mow our lawns – another story for another day!

Then dinner and Monopoly I think….

Have a great week all!!


A Long Month Tuesday, Sep 25 2007 

In which our intrepid hero sets the record straight.

A couple of days ago, I realised that I haven’t written a blog post in nearly a month. This is the longest break I’ve ever taken, but it’s been a very busy month. In no particular order:

  • The transformer for our laptop overheated and burnt out. Thankfully, we managed to pick up an after-market power supply yesterday. It works like a charm and runs much cooler than the old one.As a result, however, I now have about 300 emails, 2000 blog articles and a dozen or so Facebook messages left unread. If I haven’t replied to your email, commented on your blog, or answered your Facebook messages, please bear with me—I’ll get to them shortly.
  • Speaking of Facebook, it constantly amazes me just how much time the damn thing can waste. Bruce Sterling (from memory) recently stated that between browsing and blogging, he no longer has much time to write novels, and I can see his point.I’ve often thought in recent months that if people actually told each other in real life how much they loved one another, bought real flowers and drinks—rather than exchanging generic bits of data on their Facebook profiles—then they might generally be happier and get laid once in a while. Sex and the City‘s and Desperate Housewives‘ ratings might plummet to the point that I no longer have to risk accidentally channel-surfing onto them, and all would be good with the world.Technology might be able to enhance interpersonal relationships, but it can’t satisfactorily replace them. The world is much poorer for the erroneous perception that it can.

    Now, I sound like Ted Kaczynski, so I’ll move hastily onto my next point…

  • I also picked up a USB numeric keypad. Most people buy these to do data entry, but it should significantly aid me with ALT-characters.Say I wanted to type a letter “u” with an umlaut. It’s easy in HTML—the character code is ü—but to do it in (say) Microsoft Word, I used to have to go:
    1. Fn+F11
    2. Alt+MKIK
    3. Fn+F11

    Now, it’s just a simple matter of five keypresses, like I would have with a desktop PC with a full keyboard. Still, I pine for the day when I can buy a diacritic keypad, with keys you could hold down like Shift or Ctrl or Alt. It would have to be huge to accommodate all those weirdarse Vietnamese diacritics, but it’d make my life so much easier.

  • Mim K/W’s friends, Amber and Mitch, have flown to Melbourne to deal with a family crisis, and somehow, we ended up birdsitting their budgie, Radar.He was the most sedate little thing when he came here; he’d just sit on his perch and stare, nary a peep to be heard from him. We’ve put him near the window, bought him some good birdseed and a seed bell, and looped a CD of Australian songbirds to keep him company—and now you can’t shut him up. Especially when he hears our windchime.I’m not great with birds, but I have to admit, I kinda like the little guy.
  • I went a little crazy going miniatures shopping, and I now have about 60 samurai and 40 more Call of Cthulhu minatures to paint. I also have a metric crapload of scenery-making materials. I blame my friend Leo, who’s been mining me for painting and modelling techniques over the last couple of months.
  • I also went out and bought Monte Cook’s World of Darkness—because I just had to—and issue #1 of Paizo’s new magazine, Pathfinder.I think Erik Mona and the guys at Paizo did a phenomenal job when they took over Dragon and Dungeon magazines, and Pathfinder somehow managed to exceed my expectations. I’m still only partway through, but what little I’ve seen is already enough to get me to subscribe.
  • After a casual stroll into a second-hand bookshop in the Blue Mountains, I am now the proud owner of the third edition of Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough. That’s the twelve-volume edition, by the way, published 1906-1915. And it’s never been read; its spines are as yet uncracked.You may now worship at my feet, pitiful mortals. MUHAHAHAHAHA!I also snagged the collected works of Lafcadio Hearn and Mencius. You can bet I’ll be back at that bookshop soon.

    Earlier in the week, I finally tracked down Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces and Scott McCloud‘s Making Comics, although I didn’t buy the latter—it was in too shopworn a condition. All in all, though, it’s been an outstanding week for book-hunting.

  • Mim K/W bought Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword for my birthday. Now I just have to put together a PC that’ll run the thing…Speaking of my birthday, couple of weekends ago (delayed due to Fathers’ Day and APEC), I had my annual birthday drinks at The Porterhouse. Thanks to everyone who showed up—I had an awesome time!
  • Mim K/W has had a nasty cough for the past seven weeks, and between her workaholism and her bizarre insistance that she couldn’t go to a doctor until her phlegm turned green, it was only yesterday that we managed to drag her to Dr Tim. Despite the speculation of the triage nurse at the hospital the night before, it turns out that she doesn’t have pneumonia—yet. I had to pull a fast one on Dr Tim to convince Mim that she needed a couple of days off.It also seems that I have tonsillitis again—and Dr Tim says that if it happens once more, I’m finally going to have to have the suckers removed. Mim informs me that this means lots of jelly (that’s jello in American) and ice cream, but that I can’t request vodka in my jelly. Crap.(Incidentally, I find it strange that a triage nurse can somehow examine inpatients through half an inch of safety glass. If there’s no physical contact, then you’re not a triage nurse—you’re a receptionist.)
  • When I was a kid, my favourite movie was Journey to the Center of the Earth. Since then, the subterranean world has fascinated me. From old issues of Australian Geographic to AD&D 1st-ed’s GDQ series and Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide, to Goodman Games’ Creatures of the Endless Dark, Lovecraft‘s ghouls and David Conyers’ Secrets of Kenya, I’ve been almost obsessed with the realms below.But I’d never actually been in a cave.Last weekend, Mim K/W and I stayed at a “couples’ escape” near Rydal.

    On our way back to Sydney, we stopped by the spectacular Jenolan Caves. Sadly, by the time we got there, we could only tour the one cave—the evocatively named Temple of Baal—but we’re planning to return and explore all that we can. Friggin’ amazing stuff.

  • After several months living on savings and about a month on sickness benefits, it looks like I’ll re-enter the workforce tomorrow. Everyone at Mim K/W’s work has taken leave at the same time, and it looks like I’m about the only one she has confidence in to step up and help her hold the fort whilst her workmates are spread about the globe. I’m not sure if I can handle full-time work again, but I’m not the kind of person who says “no” easily.All those people who’ve been nagging me to get a job can stop now. Please. I have an anxiety disorder and you’re just freaking me out.Of course, being that we’ll be the only ones in the office, we can’t head to Canberra for the Labour Day long weekend, as we’d planned—many of Mim’s customers live in states where this coming weekend doesn’t include the Monday. I’d have loved to show her around my hometown, but it’ll have to wait.

    On the upside, though, it does mean that we can head to Fairfield Oktoberfest instead. Weissbier and butterscotch schnapps will flow like the autumn rains…

  • Last Friday night, Mim K/W and I went to La Premiere at Fox Studios to see Stardust. Do yourself a massive favour—go watch it. Although I think De Niro could’ve been a little bit better—I don’t think he’s quite settled into comedy yet—the film wonderfully captures Neil Gaiman‘s brilliant style. I simply loved every moment.In the leadup to Stardust, I did something I don’t normally do: I made time to watch the latest episode of the ABC’s At the Movies. Their review of Superbad was, in a word, lamentable. Not the review itself—they’re usually quite thorough, their failure to even mention Gaiman in the Stardust review notwithstanding—but the attitudes that the Superbad review betrayed.The world is changing, and they’re frightened out of their wits. Their only defence is to perch precariously on the ivory tower of film review and hurl meagre thunderbolts at the culture that frightens them so much. I suspect that many movie reviewers share the same motives. This makes me sad.
  • Speaking of pretense, Mim K/W and I stopped in at a Cypriot taverna in Katoomba for dinner on Sunday. A geriatric foursome sat at the table next to us, boasting that the food was better in Cyprus (and for the record, the taverna served the best loukanika I’ve ever had) and generally crapping on about opera.One woman, whilst drinking a VB—the “workers’ beer” in Australia—bragged that she saw Wagner in Prague because she could. The man next to her exclaimed that Wagner has brilliant moments, but truly dreary hours. Which would have been witty, had it not been the most overused cliché in the field of Wagner critique.I very nearly celebrated our meal—by smashing our plates over their heads.
  • To round out an insanely intense month, Mim K/W and I went to IKEA yesterday (yes, when she should’ve been in bed) and made some pretty cool purchases.I’ve been working on assembling the perfect environment in which to paint and build the aforementioned miniatures and terrain. I have:
    • a VIKA GRUVAN tabletop (with VIKA ARTUR legs to come later this week);
    • a couple of silver ANDY drawers in which I can store things without worrying about fumes;
    • two packs of PRUTA food containers to store things like flock, modelling clay, granite spackle and assorted bits and pieces; and
    • two INREDA collectors’ boxes for storing and displaying finished miniatures.

    All I have to get now is a table-mounted magnifying fluorescent lamp and—if I can find one—an old-style ergonomic drafting kneel chair. And, of course, the legs for my table.

    Whilst I was at IKEA, I also picked up candles, a stuffed toy polar bear, beaver and trio of mice, a bale of sticks and a kilo pack of Swedish meatballs.

    If the world ever goes all Snow Crash, then I want to be a citizen of IKEA.

And that should be just about the highlights of the last month. Mim K/W needs the PC now to work from home (again, she should be resting), but I’ll try not to be so lax in my future blogging.

ISP Blues Monday, Apr 16 2007 

In which our intrepid hero narrowly avoids the dreaded death by phone-monkey.

I’m off sick again with tonsillitis and associated complications. My doctor says that if another course of antibiotics doesn’t work, then I should consider getting them removed. I find this a bit odd. The whole concept of (as far as I can tell) yanking out part of my immune system aside, how many 31-year-olds get tonsillectomies?

Isn’t that like getting chicken pox or the measles at 31? (Mind you, I never caught either as a child…)

Mim K/W also took off half a day sick yesterday, and met me at the doctor’s. We did a bit of food shopping (including the all-important tea, which I’ve been missing for a week), came home, had a cuppa or two and went for a snooze.

I swear tea has some sort of anti-inflammatory property—which would explain the whole “teabag on the eyelids” thing. After a couple of cups of tea (as opposed to the coffee I’d been drinking for the past week) and a good lie down, my tonsils felt a lot less swollen.

After we woke, we headed downstairs to the lounge room to catch the news. And then the phone rang.

Back in January, we signed up for ADSL, bundled with a phone package. The bill gets automatically drawn from Mim’s account, and we work out who owes what with the other bills, based on that.

Mim’s bank was giving us some trouble with automated payments that month, so it didn’t come out as planned. That month’s bill, $285—which included the router and a heap of calls to mobiles which Mim made from the landline because she wasn’t working, and had no credit on her mobile—rolled over to the next bill, for a total of $454 or thereabouts.

When we got back from Queensland, we discovered that we had no phone and no Internet (part of the reason for the 10-day lacuna in blog entries recently), despite the $454 coming out of the account the previous week. I rang the ISP from my mobile and sorted it out with them—or so I thought—and our phone and Internet were put back on.

Last night’s call was from the ISP. They said that unless we paid the $454, they’d cut off our service again. After much toing and froing, it turned out that Accounts had forgotten to credit the $454 payment. Hopefully, that’s settled now—but then they said that our first bill for $285 (which came out as part of the $454) was still outstanding, and we’d have to pay it or, you guessed it, they’d cut us off.

One thing I’ve noticed with this bout of tonsillitis is that it doesn’t react well to stress. If I get stressed out, my tonsils swell, I get what’s called referred pain in my ears and sinuses, the lymph nodes in my neck blow up like a balloon and I get severe headaches. It didn’t take that very long to happen at all last night.

At the moment, I feel like Carter Wong‘s character, Thunder, at the end of Big Trouble in Little China, except with a lot more body fat and a lot less Chinese ancestry. And, unfortunately, with no kickarse faux-wuxia lightning-sorcery with which to dispatch call centre employees at the other end of the line.

Thankfully, my ISP has no fixed-term contracts. They’ve got exactly one more chance to get the billing right before I find another, cheaper ISP—whose Accounts department isn’t a bunch of complete fucking morons.

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