Sunday, May 22, 2011


I'm all for it myself. Others...not so much. Why? Who knows. I'm sure you could google a conspiracy theory about vaccines. God knows there's more conspiracy theories about than you can shake a stick at. 9/11, the moon landing, alienabductions (and anal probing), Roswell, just to name a few. Notice they're American?? Anyway...
Back in the day of rampant epidemics (on occasion), lack of antibiotics, sewerage or proper hygiene, in 1796, a Dr Edward Jenner began work on the first vaccine, which for smallpox. After some experimentation on some unsuspecting milkmaids, he successfully created the first vaccine. He then had enough confidence in it to test it on his own son, thankfully also successfully. Even though he is credited with the first vaccine, apparently he's not the first, but they are not as well known (or at all), or as scientific about it. Also some/all of the others used inoculation (live germ to immunize), rather than vaccination (deactivated germ), thanks to Louis Pasteur.
We actually managed to get rid of smallpox (except for some strains kept in labs) in 1977. The WHO launched a campaign to get rid of polio by 2000. It hasn't happened as of yet, but we live in hope. Apparently measles is next on the "hit" list. Unfortunately, we'll never be able to get rid of tetanus, since it commonly resides in and around soil, but there is vaccination.
Onto modern times there are a plethora of vaccines available. I've been a nurse immunized for a few years now, so I know the childhood schedule fairly well. It's a program I believe in. Unlike some, such as the Australian vaccination network. Now there's a misnomer isn't there? The actress Jenny McCarthy has publicly stated that the MMR (measles mumps and rubella) vaccine caused her son to develop autism (which she states btw that she has cured him of). It is organizations like this and others like it. Never mind the fact that the study by DR Andrew Wakefield has once and for all been discredited, we are still dealing with the fall out. Diseases which were once on the decrease are now on the rise. Pertussis (whooping cough), measles, tetanus and just recently in Brisbane a death of a young women from diphtheria. Apparently she was unimmunized and caught from an immunized friend that had been overseas recently. The last confirmed case of diphtheria was in 1993, I'm not sure if the patient died from it.
Why the (extended) rant? It's a combination of the young woman in Brisbane and some of the steadfastly obstinate and inventive people I see at work and their interesting reasons for refusing to vaccinate their babies.
Case in point. Diphtheria: effects of diphtheria. The bacteria Causes a sore throat initially. It can progress to a pseudo membrane which covers the throat, meaning unless a tracheostomy is performed the patient can't breathe. The bacteria can produce a toxin leading to heart disease and peripheral nerve damage. It has a high mortality rate, with between 5 and 20% dying and is easily transmitted by coughing etc. It can be immunized against at 2, 4, 6 months and 4 years, with boosters at 15 years. The possible side effects from that tend to be fever, soreness from the injection and possible swelling. Allergic reactions are so rare that I don't know any of my colleagues have ever seen them. So which would you choose?
Is immunization a perfect science? No. Are there risks with vaccinating? Yes. Are there preservatives in vaccines? Yes. Do we give babies a lot of vaccines? Yes.
Are the vaccines well tolerated? Yes. Do they reduce the risks of vaccine preventable diseases? Yes. Are they free and easy to get? Yes.
Any more questions?
My references (god this has turned into a scholarly piece, hasn't it)
National health and medical research centre (NHMRC)
Australian childhood immunization register ACIR
World health authority WHO
Centre for disease control CDC
Yes even Wikipedia (shame I can't say it's peer reviewed)
If you must look up the Australian vaccination network AVN (even if for some light reading)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ugg boots

As a Melbourne girl, I grew up with ugg boots and moccasins too. I had them both and loved them.  My moccasins were usually black, very fetching, oh and I was classy enough to wear them outside the house. My ugg boots too, for that matter. You could get them from all the markets, the Vic market included. Mine were beige, long with tasteful braid around the top. Yum. Well, I've finally gotten sick of the ugg boot style slippers with fake fur that disintegrate after a season's wear. My last pair from a popular chain store by the name of R*&^rs had half the sole pull away after a couple of months. Repeated glueing by my husband hasn't helped. I finally got sick of it, got sick of fake ugg boots, sick of magazine slippers (yes, I have them) and decided to lash out again.
Travelling overseas, we saw in NYC of all places (!?!?!) ugg boots out in public. Admittedly, it was cold (freezing), but really! The worst thing was, they were wearing Ugg Boot Australia brand. Now, clearly, that is an oxymoron. Apparently, in the 70s, a surfer (?from the US) saw the locals in Sydney wearing ugg boots and took the idea back home, as you do. Thus began a patent war. The parent company, Deckers took over in the 1990s and have expanded, as the Americans do. Deckers tried to trademark the phrase/words ugg boots etc, but Uggs n Ruggs led the challenge and it got overturned on the basis that ugg boots is actually a generic term in Australia (and NZ I think) and so Australian ugg boot makers have gone beserk on the internet. I do find it ironic that Ugg Australia is so called given that it's an American brand and who knows where they're actually made, or the sheep from. So, I bought a lovely pair of Blue Mountain ugg boots (100% Aussie made). I have a photo here, well up there. They were not cheap, but well worth it, but there's one problem.....I have competition for them.
As you can see.....

Saturday, May 14, 2011


This is about multiculturalism from my perspective only. There is a public debate at the moment about it, in light of the view of the regular arrival, by boat, of asylum seekers and the divide between religious factions. I make no attempt to come up with solutions to these, merely tell what it was like for me as I grew up. If anyone findsit racist, so be it.
I grew up in a south eastern neighborhood of Melbourne in the 70s. It was a typical middle class area, complete with cricket or tennis being played on the road on the weekend and kids hooning around on their bikes. It was also heavily populated by Greeks and Italians, as well as white Australians. Typically we went to school with bruno's as well as glenn's.
The fresh food market at nearby Oakleigh was where mum dragged us every Saturday morning.she knew a fair few of them due to being a regular, but all the signs were in Greek, gaarh. Personally, I hated that market, the signs I couldn't understand, the yelling, thhe smell of fish. The irony is, I'd probably love it now.
Here's the names of some girls I knew at school: soula ,toula, koula, voula, mena, nina,Lena, zena,rose, rosina, Rosetta, Rosemarie, Sophie, Sophia, sofi. I think most of those lived within a few blocks of me.
Our neighbors used to grow their own fruit and veg and kill pigs in spring. We used to get bags of fruit from them and their figs and grapes used to fall off on our side of the fence. I've always loved figs since then. In return, I used to play with their younger daughter, who used to get passed over the fence.
In the late 70s, asylum seekers were coming over, by boat, from mainly Vietnam. There was also an outcry about them. A lot of them settled in spring vale, where my nan lived. W were no strangers to Asians in our family, as my auntie had married a Chinese man who had lived in Malaysia. We had Eurasian cousins as a result. I do remember when the shops in spring vale started to sport signs written in Vietnamese. Ironically, one of the best Greek restaurants I've ever been to, complete with plate smashing, was in spring vale. Ohh, the garlic ridden hangovers I've had from that place.
We also lived near Monash uni, so there were always a lot of multicultural students living in the neighborhood.
In the 80s, I started to meet more people from different backgrounds. Firstly, I was friends with a polish girl at high school. One of the first times I visited, I was given borscht. I had never seen pink soup before. Thanks to mums strict manners training I ate it. To this day I love borscht. At the local high school I went to for years 10 & 11 (or parts there of), we "skips" were definitely in a minority. It really didn't bother me. I got to learn how to swear in several languages. I also got to see how so many Italians covered their furniture with plastic and put plastic runners down their hallways. Yes, I've seen pictures of people sitting on donkeys and yes, I knew the Oakleigh wogs, as they called themselves. They were a very small band of criminal types that terrorized the area.
At some time, in the late 80s, we started to get more Indians migrating and they too, moved into the oldest child was babysat by an Indian lady. Her house was always spotless. We knew a couple around then, through my husbands work, the wife was Indian, the husband white. They were a lovely couple. One day we went over their place and her and her sister (one of the 7) were in the kitchen with the biggest pile of garlic and ginger I've ever seen, cooking and preserving it for the rest of the year. I couldn't stay in there for long, the heat and smell were oppressive. I don't know how she did it.
As I grew up, I started to meet aboriginal Australians for the first time. By then, I'd come across nearly the globe (with the notable exceptions of south America and Africa), yet had never met any aboriginal Australians. Bit sad that. One of my friends was called deaf John. Guess why??? He was always glad that I could do the alphabet in sign (couldn't do auslan though). I learned a bit about land rights from him. Y the time I met John, who was living with white parents with another aboriginal boy (they'd adopted them), I knew about the 67 referendum. One day I brought him home with me. After he'd gone, we had an arguement because one of our neighbours commented on it. I was quite aggravated, understandably and it ended with me heatedly asking my parents how they voted in the referendum. I'm able to report that they voted yes, but for the first time ever, I was aware of others attitudes towards people different from them.
We were relatively open, but we had an uncle that came back from WW2 with a hatred towards the Japanese. He'd been in changi as a pow you see.
I first met the children of those that fled Lebannon when I worked in the city. I guess it was a cultural thing, but I found that no didn't actually mean no to those young men. I think it meant, we'll nag until you say yes.make no mistake, some of the guys I met were lovely, but I did get slapped on the face by one of them after yet another no. We all knew that white Australian girls were considered fair game at the time, as in "have fun with them, but marry one of ours". To be fair, the Turkish and Lebanese boys were not the only ones, told that. I've had Greek and Italian friends whose parents were enormously disappointed when they announced that they would marry an Australian.just as it's changed slowly, for them, hopefully that attitude will change for others
I know this is just a snapshot and that I'm leaving myself open to criticism, but so what. This is through my eyes and no one else's. It would take forever to write about what growing up in a multicultural city has added to my life. I think we all stagnate just a little, if we're all too similar, but having said that it's better for all of us to be a bit more inclusive.


I type this as I sit and watch one of the dreadful (yet compelling) new moon films.
My fascination with vampire stories started when I first read Brampton Stokers Dracula at age 14. I was too scared to have a hot shower for months, as in the book Count Dracula would often appear in a fog/mist. I believe I even searched for garlic cloves to wear round my neck.
Since then I've of course read many more vampire books and seen many vampire films. I think that my husband is slightly more vampire (supernatural) obsessed than I am.
Apparently legends of vampire like creatures have existed since ancient times, but gained in popularity and have become more like they are today since the 1700s. Some ways to ward off vampires included a branch of wild rose or hawthorn. In some cases a lemon in the mouth of a vampire was said to be harmful to them. Go figure. Vladimir the impaler was a count/prince in medieval eastern Europe. His surname was drakula/drakulic, apparently a common surname in those parts. Apparently he was fond of impaling and torturing the people of his land to keep order. He had quite a fearsome reputation. It's believed that Bram Stoker used him as inspiration for the part of count Dracula.
I quickly checked out which vampire books we have. It's a bit sad
Bram Stoker, Drqcula
Anne Rice, Interview with the vampire (and ALL of the rest). My husband loves them
Charlein Harris, dead until dawn (and ALL the rest). I'm actually responsible for them.
Stephanie Meyer, Twilight (and all the rest). This time I'm blaming my sons ex girlfriend for those.
Stephen King, the lost boys.
Sergei lukyanenko, night watch (I have yet to get day watch & twilight watch).
I'm sure theres more, but surely thatsenough.
We're even worse when it comes to DVDs.
The twilight series (sad aren't we).
Van Helsing
Interview with the vampire
I am legend
The blade series
The underworld series.
Hmmm, bit sad aren't we. To think, I haven't even gotten on to the werewolf/wizard/magic books or films that we have.


It's a very emotive condition. Some people think it doesn't actually exist. Some think that it's caused by crap parenting. The difficulty is that there is no one specific test for it. Even though it tends to run in families, it isn't diagnosed by a genetic blood test. Some use CT scans of the head, but most commonly it is diagnosed by questionnaires for families and teachers etc of children with it. It's also commonly treated with dexamphetamine (or similar), in other words, speed. Mostly, the kids with it are badly behaved/wild/dreamy/impulsive, so they can be a......challenge. Having said that it is considered real enough to be included in DSM V (THE mental health textbook). Last time I was at uni, I wrote a "paper" on ADHD, if I knew where it was, posssibly I'd just scan it to here (self plagiarism), but can't lay my hands on it right now. I ended up with over 50 references, with no drama. I have 4 kids as everyone knows and mr 20 was diagnosed at 9, probably after much heel dragging, as no one wants a label put to their child, or give them speed.
Here's some of our experiences.
We got to know the primary school teaching staff, in particular, the deputy principal quite well. Sadly, mostly we got "can your reinforce the rules and what we expect him to do"
He saw a pediatrician, psychologist and psychiatrist along the way, oh and the police a couple of times. Yay!
He didn't like school, surprise, surprise.
He got picked on by some, but fortunately had friends. Most of his friends had "issues" too, such as ADHD, aspergers, tourettes. Most of these kids, now adults are living productive lives. Are they the highest achievers? No, but they're still young. One of the worst of his friends from school is "normal".
What have we learned?
You will be criticized, a lot.
You will get little support from your school (I found the private system better than the public). Children with ADHD do not get extra support for them unless the kid has an identified learning disability or some such. In a lot of ways, I can't blame teachers for getting sick of them, they're a handful.
You will get the most help from the private sector, eg psychology etc. There is little help for you and your child again, because the mental health system is already overloaded.
There is informal support in the form of a support system ADDIS (from memory), has chapters in every state.
When you find a good doctor, stick to him/her.
Always make sure you balance out the inevitable criticism with positive feedback, whenever able. Most kids with ADHD get criticized so much they end up with low self esteem.
Consistent and tough discipline is so necessary. These kids push the boundaries like no others. This is very, very hard. Sometimes you feel like giving in, don't.
Some "fun" events in out life.
Just before his birthday, our son threw a rock through the rear window of the bus. Whoops, no trip to the ekka for his birthday that year.
One of his asd friends cried in the video library when he lost a coin toss for a movie.
Another one (aspergers) insisted on getting in the car after school when we were going to his doctors. He got upset when he found out that he wouldn't be in time to go to the movies with his family. He cried for 2 hours,
Another one(also aspergers) had to be prized off my sons neck.
One child decided to hide (during hide & seek) on top of the car (ADHD).
The school principal broke her ankle rather badly chasing my son onto the bus after school when he ran from a detention to get to the bus. THAT was legend for years.
I could go on, but you get the drift. It's the small (or even big) things that if you didn't laugh about them, you'd cry.
I'm sure I'm not the only one. Share your funnier incidents, or even your general experiences.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Online games

Everyone has their favs. Thanks to the internet, there's an increased amount of games too. Time wasters all of them. Hehe.
At the moment I love Angry Birds. It might just be the noises. I sometimes find myself making snorting noises at the end of a failed mission. Either that, or pointlessly kicking my feet about while making animal noises (tantrum).
I am also rather fond of bubble shooter. I've been known to play it for so long that my wrists hurt (combination of laptop and carpal tunnel).
Moving on to the Nintendo ds, I love brain training, especially the one that  has monsters in the jar being killed by nicely lined up, matching antibiotics. I've forgotten what it's called and I'm quite frankly, too lazy to get up, turn the ds on and find out the name of the game. I did use brain training and all of it's variants quite a lot when I was recovering from my surgery. Got the old upstairs computer going again.
Moving along to the Nintendo Wii, I do have (yes, and use) the Wii fit and my long time fav Mario Kart. It's like an old friend.  In fact, I have a favourite character, Yoshi. I have an inch high Yoshi, which I constantly have to hide from miss 7. A rather overenthusiastic young shop assistant gave him to me in Game Traders and I've kept him ever since, cos he is rather cute. We've played Mario Kart since Nintendo 64.  I just seemed to get shittier and shittier as time's gone on. These days I can barely manage to stay on the track. Not feeling the love anymore.  My son (mr soon to be 21) used to love the '64 ...... and to love challenging his rather pathetic mother. With 007 his "man" used to run wildly from room to room, taunting me, with him sitting there giggling madly.
Sadly, my high point was Street fighter on the Super Nintendo. Oh I was so good! Then, of course Jean Claude Van Damne & Kylie Minogue ruined it all and made a movie of it.
Hubby's high point was Duck Hunt on the original Nintendo, or maybe it was Tennis from the Commodore (or whatever it was) in the late 70's.
I was also pretty damn good at Galaga, Star Wars and Pac Man.
Hubby liked Frogger too (giddyup).

9/11 memorial

This was the memorial built at the site of the twin towers. It's quite eerie. There's a a square where the building was (forgotten which tower) and plaques etc and this structure. Apparently it's made from girders from the rubble of the twin towers. When they have finished building the new world trade center, which will not be replicas of what they were before 9/11, a light from this will be lit to shine into the sky.  There is also a memorial nearby where you can see models of the new buildings and see photos and videos etc of the event, as well as tributes at the local church to those that died. Very sad. I thought we should see it when we went to NYC, because Australia followed the US to Afghanistan (then Iraq) and Australian soldiers have also died there. In light of reports of Osama Bin Laden's death, I thought I'd put this online.