Monday, December 19, 2016

Caveat emptor - do not eat at Tiamo in Lygon St, Carlton!

A word of advice - do not bother to eat at Tiamo (303-307 Lygon St Carlton) if you are going as part of a group. My colleagues and I had lunch there yesterday and were stunned to be told that they "do not split the bill" so we were all left scrambling to try to find enough cash to cover our respective meals. Go somewhere that is more civilised and has moved into the 21st century!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Handy Household Hints No. 9 - How to fix an umbrella as a temporizing measure!

My very favourite large umbrella, which I was given for helping out at the University of Melbourne Medical School, has come to grief over recent months. It is so large and useful that I did not want to throw it out. So, how to fix it? It was easy to sew back the retaining threads where they had come loose, but fixing the struts was a tad more challenging. Lacking the necessary equipment to reattach them, I opted for using good old cable ties to fix them together so that they could still slide up and down with opening and closing of the umbrella. It's not perfect, but it is functional, so the brolly lives to fight another day!

Friday, May 6, 2016

New discussion group for Wilderness and Expedition Medicine

I've just started a new Facebook group called "Wilderness and Expedition Medicine (de terris ad astra) (From the Earth to the stars!) 

This group has been set up to create a community of people who are interested in wilderness and/or expedition medicine and human physiology in extreme environments, whether that be in challenging environments on the Earth, such as the alpine or polar regions, underwater or at high altitude, or in the context of space exploration. 

Its purpose is to share information of interest, including journal articles, updates and courses and conferences, and to engage in relevant discussion.

If this is also an interest of yours, please feel free to join!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Book Review - "Surgery: The Ultimate Placebo" by Professor Ian Harris

This is a "must read" book - it has a great explanation of how evidence-based science works (or doesn't) and challenges us to question whether doing things "because that is the way we have always done it" is in fact the best way to do things or whether it should be done at all, for instance treating appendicitis at first instance with surgery rather than a trial of IV antibiotics.

"Surgery: The Ultimate Placebo" by Professor Ian Harris (New South Books, Australian RRP $24.99).

Establishment of Victorian High Plains VHF radio repeater on Mt McKay - Appeal for donations

Over the past few months, Alpine Search and Rescue Victoria has been working on establishing a VHF radio repeater on Mt McKay. This is a public benefit initiative by alpineSAR and follows the difficulties experienced by first responders in rescuing a skier who had fractured his femur on Mt Bogong last winter.

The repeater has now been installed and commissioned, with the support and assistance of Falls Creek Resort Management and AGL Energy.

Testing over the past week shows it provides coverage to Mt Bogong, across the High Plains, and to Mt Feathertop, which will provide effective radio communications for first responders in the time gap until Police arrive on scene.

Although alpineSAR obtained donations of some equipment and in kind services, there was some, not insignificant, cost incurred to complete the installation. alpineSAR has underwritten that cost.

Via our GiveNow donation appeal, ee are now seeking donations from members of the public who frequent the area, and might benefit in the event they need assistance, to offset some of the cost. Donations are tax deductible:

The appeal page explains the need, purpose and outcome for potential donors, and if you frequent the High Plains and might one day benefit from this new service, then we ask you to consider making a donation (however small) towards the cost of establishing the repeater.

Thank you!

PS I've been a member of alpineSAR for many years and this is a genuine appeal (NOT a scam).

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Southern Hemisphere 'Flu Season is underway - get your 'flu shot!

The Southern Hemisphere 'flu season is upon us. I had my 'flu shot a couple of days ago, and would recommend it for all adults (baring contraindications).

Available from your friendly GP or from many chemists. For instance, Chemist Warehouse is offering the trivalent for $8.99 and quadrivalent (what I had) for $11.99. A small investment potentially to prevent an extended period of illness and absence from work/study etc.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Book Review: "The Girl in the Spider's Web" by David Lagercrantz (continuing the Stieg Larsson 'Millenium' series)

As a fan of the original Millenium trilogy, I was sceptical about a new book by a different author to continue the series, which was brought to an abrupt and sad end by the premature death of Stieg Larsson. I had also read about the unpleasantness between Larsson's father and brother, legal heirs to his estate, and his widowed partner, who had an incomplete draft of his next book on a laptop. This book could never see the light of day without the involvement of his family. Reading the acknowledgments at the end of this new book it is clear that only Larsson's father and brother had a hand in its creation, and it is not the untold sequel held by his partner.

The book is long, and slow to get going, and the second half is much more interesting than the first. It has a labyrinthine (and somewhat implausible) plot, largely centered around out-hacking the hackers, and an interesting familial twist for Salander, who is once again an improbable heroine, ably aided and abetted by Mikael Blomkvist. It is clever and complex, and all the things one would expect from a Stieg Larsson novel.

Interestingly, it is also clearly set up for a sequel. On the last page, Blomkvist and Salander appear headed for a rapprochement, and the dastardly villain behind all the trouble is still out there ...

In the end, I didn't regret reading it, but I was glad that I had read a borrowed copy and not shelled out my hard-earned dollars for it. It is going to be hard to replace the Larsson books and the excellent Swedish tele-movies based on these books. Is this going to be another 'pulp fiction' factory churning out new books every year or so - time will tell. Meanwhile, I wonder what story is yet untold on that laptop???

Book Review: "Northern Lights" by Andrew Scott

This compact book by academic Andrew Scott sets out how Australian policy makers could benefit from the examples of the Scandinavian countries. It is a marvellous read, and looks at a number of key areas including education and industrial relations. There is surely a lot that we could learn, and have had many opportunities to learn, but haven't. One can only hope that policy makers take the time and trouble to read Scott's small tome. If they do, Australia could become an even better place ...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Calling all cat lovers - please help to save Runty the Magnificent!

Calling all cat lovers with a generous heart - this beautiful and affectionate 10 month-old rag-doll cat belonging to my sister needs urgent and expensive surgery to correct a rectal prolapse, which his loving owner is unable to afford. It would break her heart to have to euthanase her adored pet, so all and any help appreciated! My family has loved watching Runty and his five brothers and sisters grow into just the most gorgeous kittens you can imagine, and having Runty around has made a wonderful difference to my sister's life. We have had cats around since we were children and love having them as part of the family.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Handy Household Hints No. 8 - Roll up and stack your towels and sheets to save space

I think this one was inspired by a shop display, but I now roll up my towels and secure them with a couple of sturdy rubber bands (thanks to Australia Post) and then can stack them neatly in a very space-efficient manner. It also allows you easily to see exactly what is there, and to take fresh ones from the bottom and put clean ones back at the top after they have been washed. This technique can also be used for summer sheets, as in the top photograph below.

Handy Household Hints No. 7 - Using recycled CD containers to tame your hair ties

These plastic spindles and covers from bulk packs of blank CDs have proved to be perfect for keeping hair ties and scrunchies organised, and also free from dust. They don't take much space, and can be kept out on top of a bureau or dresser.

Handy Household Hints No. 6 - Use an old sushi container to tame all your cords and chargers

A couple of years ago I went to a conference where I ended up with some of the leftover food, and as a result I had several sturdy plastic sushi containers. Rather than putting them into the recycling, I had one of those 'light bulb' moments when I realised that they would be perfect for storing the cords and chargers that I use frequently for electronic devices, mobile phones, etc. The compartments are large enough to take one or two chargers, and then I also wind up the cords so that they do not get tangled up, and are ready for use. Initially I was using hair ties and rubber bands to keep them neat but then hit upon the idea of using small bulldog clips instead, which works even better! Another cheap and environmentally friendly solution!

Handy Household Hints No. 5 - How to tame your small receipts ready for tax time!

It is always a challenge to tame all those small receipts from your purchases, but here is a really simple and cost-effective method to consider. First collect some of the return postage envelopes that you receive from banks and other organisations. Then using a marker pen write an envelope for each month in the year, and put your receipts in the envelope in chronological order. Then bundle them together in a (recycled or other) plastic bag either loose or with a rubber band around them. When it comes to tax time, everything is beautifully organised and hopefully nothing has been lost!

Handy Household Hints No. 4 - Make your own spice jars!

Having adopted the principle of avoiding plastics for the storage of food where possible (being an avid watcher of medical docos), instead of putting all my glass jars into the recycling I have been reusing them where practicable. This small fruit juice bottle is just the right size for a spice jar, with a DYI label cut from the packet!

Handy Household Hints No.3 - Store your leftover filter or brewed coffee in a glass jar

Often I will end up with left-over plunger coffee that is still perfectly good to use, so I store it in a glass jar in the refrigerator and reheat it as needed. This preserves the quality of the coffee and also has the added benefit of letting any sediment sink to the bottom so that you have a clearer brew to drink!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The venerable art of reading the coffee cup - interpreting coffee art

Probably most people have heard of reading tea leaves to predict the future, but it is also possible to get some pretty interesting designs when adding milk to a freshly made espresso coffee. Perhaps it is a little like the Rorschach inkblot test, but use your imagination to see what you can find in these images!

Handy Household Hints No. 2 - 1001 uses for old pantyhose (stockings)

If you are bothered by a draught around the top or side of your front door, here is a novel solution! An old or unwanted pair of pantyhose (stockings) can be employed to work in two directions at once and stretched to fit, with the panty section acting as thicker padding at the corner. This works effectively until a more permanent solution can be put in place, and is both cheap and environmentally friendly!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Handy Household Hints No. 1 - Saving the world one coffee pod at a time ...

Attention all coffee lovers - if you use coffee pods, take the time to recycle them as far as possible. Nespresso pods are made from aluminium and can be returned for recycling. All you have to do is collect them and drop them off at your nearest Nespresso boutique (whilst enjoying a complimentary coffee) or other authorised collection point.

All other brands with a plastic pod and plastic or aluminium top can be opened up with a good pair of scissors and the coffee grounds extracted. The coffee makes a wonderful free (yes, free as you have already paid for and enjoyed the pod) organic fertiliser and your plants will love it. You can then choose whether to wash and recycle the plastic pod (if accepted by your local recycling program) or bin it if you are feeling lazy or the pods are not accepted for recycling. You will be surprised at how much free fertiliser you can collect! Even IKEA puts out its used coffee grounds for people to take home and use on their gardens.

If you use an espresso machine, it is even easier to collect the used coffee grounds for your plants (or someone else's). Help reduce waste, encourage plant growth (which helps the environment) and feel good about your actions!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Condolences for Gough Whitlam - Australian Labor Party

If you are a member of the generation who directly benefited from the educational and other reforms of the Whitlam Government, there is still an opportunity to pass on your condolences and thanks:

Condolences for Gough Whitlam - Australian Labor Party:

For many of us from poorer backgrounds, the advent of free tertiary education provided us with an opportunity to go to university and pursue professional careers. I for one will be always grateful for this.

'via Blog this'

SnowSafe: A guide to safety in the alpine areas

For those of you planning a trip to the alpine areas, either for snowsports or summer activities, this is an excellent web site developed by the Australian Ski Patrol Association with loads of useful information:

SnowSafe | A guide to safety in the alpine areas:
'via Blog this'