Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ann's Mini-vacation - Day Thursday.

I finally made it to Alma Park Zoo. I thought I should do something vacationy. And, I really wanted to just shoot photographs. I really ought to do something systematically- figure this new camera out. It didn't happen today.

Next on the agenda- fix supper and get hair cut.

Then, maybe, just maybe we'll finish "The Wire".

Edited to add- NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. It is over. I'm having a hard time accepting what has happened to Duquan- though Kevin is absolutely right. He was left in a bad place.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Christmas Pearl

I forgot to record this. My mother sent me the book on tape (well, CD) and I have finished listening about 2 weeks ago and have already sent it off to my cousin, Steve, for his birthday. This is one well traveled book! Anyway, it seems like this is the better time to record it anyway- just 6 months to Christmas! I've already bought my sister two (count 'em- 1...2) gifts! I've got to get my holiday plans figured out for Christmas, etc.

Anyway: today's quote- it wasn't hard to pick this one out.

"Any problem you can fix with a handful of money isn't a problem at all."

In looking up the image from Amazon, I found that there were recipes included on the CD. Geesh! I should tell Steve. Wonder what I missed....

Ann's Mini-vacation - Day Wednesday

I had plan for today. That ought to count for something.

I had a plan- but it got scrapped about 8 AM. The plan is still viable. Maybe tomorrow. Yes. Maybe.

Zelda and I had a kick around the house day. I put a little time into my "to do" list. Not enough to knock much off the list. For example, I didn't even try to start the lawn mower. Still, I made some progress.

I don't think I have the concept of vacation down.

First and foremost, Zelda FINALLY got her walk. Today I took her to the Boondall wetlands. She is not a happy-to-ride-in-the-car girl - so I came back an hour later recognizing she'd have been happier with a 30 min around the neighborhood walk. Still, I enjoyed walking through trees rather than down the suburban canyons. I must admit, however, that it is much quieter to walk here at home. The "near" walk at Boondall parallels the Gateway Motorway. Perhaps I've told you?

I read over the schedule for the upcoming veterinary conference (next weekend) and decided I could find more fun ways to spend $500. Then, as I was driving home from the grocery this afternoon, I wondered if maybe I'd enjoy going to the behavior meeting. I wonder if I could scare up some behavior research project. Unlike most (veterinary) behavior students I've met, I really don't have much of an interest in clinical behavior practice. Cats pee. Dogs bite. Nobody is happy. However, I enjoy reading and thinking and talking and writing behavior.

All this thinking was probably spurred on by my effort at the mall. I spent an hour at Border's Bookstore with the entire stack of dog care books they had (once) shelved. I read through (ok, skimmed) each one's chapter on housebreaking. I need to have some references ready for my clients who know nothing about having a puppy. I could write my own, but this is quicker. Interestingly, every single book I looked at made use of a crate for housebreaking. So, why is it that Australians have never heard of the concept? Oh, yes. They aren't reading any books. I must admit, I was in no hurry to buy any of these texts. I still find the cost of books here to be incredible.

And, speaking of books, I found that my dissertation (about the development of courtship behavior in doves) is listed at ("Out of Print--Limited Availability.") I thought this was kinda cool- but what amused me more were the books that were listed as alternative titles.

Looking for "development" Products?
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Carl never did like my title. I can see why now. Totally leads a person down the wrong track. (And, WHO ARE these customers who are making these suggestions?)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ann's Mini-Vacation - Day Tuesday

Eventually I was going to run into a day that sounds like real life. Tuesday is that day. (I'm sure that it is not a coincidence that this is a day where Kevin had to work and I was on my own to "entertain" myself.) Laundry, dishes, cooking. An attempt was made to mow the lawn- but I couldn't get the mower started. Keeping this short as there are still a bunch of items on the "to do" list and I don't want to bleed this sort of day into tomorrow.

Oh, tonight we DO have plans to see "The Incredible Hulk".

Edited to add: Do not in any way consider this an endorsement for "The Incredible Hulk".

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ann's Mini-vacation - Day 5 (Monday)

Kevin took off today. At one time we had thought we'd spend the weekend, a long weekend, in Cairns. Then, later, in Christchurch New Zealand. Finally, we decided to spend money on other things- like applying for permanent residency and Kevin's big, cool birthday gift...the one I'm not allowed to talk about yet. So, we're here in Brisbane. Taking it easy. Zooming through the last season of "The Wire" and today seeing the new Picasso and his collection exhibition at the GoMA.

Kevin, spoiled by the recent Warhol exhibit gives it a 2 of 10. I liked it better. We both suffer from having no real knowledge of art history. Lots of nudity. Well, female nudity. That pleased Kevin. We were sadly disappointed to find that our dream of a photo booth that took your photo and converted it into a cubist masterpiece was not realized.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ann's Mini-Vacation - Day 4

The day in which Zelda misses not one but two walks in the Boondall Wetlands.

Way back in August I picked up a book at the Brisbane Museum on parks around Brisbane and thought I needed to check out the Boondall Wetlands. We drive past a sign for it at least weekly. It is right at the end of Beams Road- just an exit off the roundabout that loads you onto the Gateway Motorway.

We didn't know what to expect and I wanted to keep Zelda's bandaged feet dry- as well as her incisions- so the poor girl had to wait at home. Again. As it turned out the walk around the northern portion of the wetlands is only about 2 km and mostly mud free. She could have handled it- and really enjoyed it. Bad Ann.

After, we decided we really should try walking the bike path: 8.7 km. But, before this we needed a snack and bit of water to carry along. So, we zoomed back home and then not looking Zelda in the eye, left again. We both agreed that 8.7 km was too much for an 11 year old dog who doesn't get much exercise.

This time we drove down to the southern entrance. We noticed that much of the bike path here was just walking along the road. We also began to suspect that the 8.7 was a one-way measurement. So, we did the little loop at the end: 1.2 km. Yes. A very superior little walk. Very dog worthy. I'm going to do it again early one morning. I'm hoping doing this might result in actually seeing birds while sitting in the bird hide. And, I'll take Zelda.

Since it was now only about 2 pm, we headed into the city. I had been pushing Kevin to see "The Orphanage" and he had been resisting- because he had work he wanted to do. But, we could see the 2:30 show and be home before dark. Even in Brisbane. Even in June.

The movie was great fun! At one point- well two- even Kevin jumped in his seat. It was, however, me and me alone that SCREAMED out loud later. Kevin says the entire theater appreciated it. It was a fine ghost story and Kevin and I have enjoyed chewing on it since.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ann's Mini-vacation - Day 3 (Saturday)

Kevin and I were among the thirteen throng that were invited to gather in Indooroopilly for games, games, games and Indian food to celebrate John's 42nd birthday. Funny how a guy named Friendless could fill so many seats at a birthday party.

The food was great. The company was superb. Kevin and I had a run of unbelievable luck at Tichu (1045 to -45). The only negative was my usual camera woes. Now, you'll note the flash works. It just doesn't seem to have any sort of mechanism for recording an image from a relatively short distance in somewhat low light. The choices are either an image the camera is happy with but I am not:

or one that doesn't please either the camera or me. ("Hey, Bitch. The image is fuzzy. Haven't we talked about camera shake enough?")

Following the party I wanted to go to a celebration of the winter solstice in Windsor. A party that featured, I must add, traditional fire sculptures.

Wow! I've never seen a fire sculpture- let alone a traditional fire sculpture!

However, by the time we got home and took care of Zelda, a night on the couch with the men of Oz sounded just right. Alas. My pagan nature must be suppressed for another year.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ann's Mini-vacation - Day 2: Friday- Head Screwing

So, I thought I'd try getting my head screwed on straight. I called a woman that my doctor recommended who said she did day long intensive therapy. I had to write up a history of myself and my concerns- all my pet neuroses- and email her ahead of time. She deftly saw through my self disclosure: "lonely, homesick, and lacking purpose". Somehow, it took about 5 pages for me to convey that. It seems so simple here.

The first hurdle, however, was that she is located in Palm Beach - on the Gold Coast. That is about a 90 min drive - even without traffic. I got up extra early and was ON SCHEDULE until, while I was talking with my mother on the phone, Zelda started scratching and pulled a stitch.

Run. Run. Run. It was still before 7 AM so alone I bandaged her chest (in purple to match her collar), both her feet, put an e-collar on her and popped her a Mr. Ace the Promazine tablet.

In all, I was less than an hour late arriving.

I don't know about the day. It was exhausting with lots of emotion, but I thought I was doing OK until we reached the point where she asked me if I knew about the six things that people require to feel happy (or satisfied or ??).

"Do you mean Maslow's hierarchy of needs?" I asked as I tried to count them off in my head.


The six: connection, significance, variety, consistency, growth, and contribution. For a reason that doesn't seem intuitive for me, satisfying only three creates an addiction.

"Well", I said. "At least I don't have an addiction."

I didn't recognize that any of these were satisfied in my life. It was at this point that I pretty much gave up on the day. Or, more honestly, I gave up on anything more from the day. I was tired and now I felt like I'd spend most of a day and way too much money to have someone tell me in new words that "I'm lonely, homesick and lack a sense of purpose". Afterward she wanted me to design a plan to satisfy these needs- but I was too tired and too frustrated and I just wanted to go home.

So, I have some homework to do this week. I need to identify the things I love and the things I will not tolerate and then somehow these in combination with the list of relationship values and lifestyle values I created and hierarchically arranged, my blueprint for making healthy decisions for my life will emerge.

Actually, as this is being written some days later, I do feel better. And, Zelda, to the best of my knowledge, has not pulled any additional stitches.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ann's Mini-vacation - Day 1

Finally, the long awaited day has arrived! Time off for good behavior. Actually, time off for any behavior of MY CHOICE!!!!!!!

Before going further, I must confess that though this episode is time marked 6/19, it is being composed at a point beyond 6/19. It is just that the content shall reflect upon 6/19. Or, 19/06...if you insist.

6/19 a day that will live in infamy. Zelda didn't get breakfast.

Yes, it is true. It wasn't for a lack of gazing or sitting in the right place or stamping of feet. It was because the way I celebrated the beginning of my holiday was to schedule the dog for a dental cleaning. Oh, and if there is time, could you remove her warts?

The rest of the day was similarly exciting. Errands. Errands. Errands. Oh, and retrieve the dog.

Thursday evening, however, we had tickets for the THEATRE. Yes, second row from the front in the dead center of the row, tickets for....... Puppetry of the Penis. Two Australian men dressed only in socks, shoes, and capes performed amazing feats of genitalian acrobatics. Ah, Art.

While we enjoyed the show, it wasn't until later, until Kevin discussed the performance with our man Terry, that we truly appreciated the wonder of it all. You see, we were not just watching a couple of brazen young blokes manipulating their undersides for the amusement of an audience. We were witnessing a part of the national culture of Australia. As I understand it, all around Australia it is a common feature of a late night, drunken barbecue to participate in a competition of "dick tricks". How have we missed this? Where were our invitations?

And, Zelda, still recovering from the anaesthetic missed it all.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Wire

Have I mentioned we're watching "The Wire"? Wow. Amazing. Sometimes, I think I need a score card to keep up with all the characters. Particularly as seasons stretch into years.

We've just finished season 4- and started season 5. That means a boatload of new characters. Of course, in general, by the time a season ends it is a bit easier to keep track of people because they tend to kill a significant number of them.

Baltimore. It's a wicked city.

Although I'm looking forward to what season 5 has to tell me about the media (and crime and politics and...), I'm missing the rendition of the theme song from season 4. If you've never watched The Wire, or only watched a few episodes or only a single season, then you don't know that while the theme song stays the same, the singer changes. Season four - definitely my favorite. For you poor souls who aren't HBO junkies, I've included it up top.

Friday, June 13, 2008


It has been that kind of week. Little stumbling blocks. Day after day of stubbed toes. A new set of antibiotics which will undoubtedly lead to a new set of antifungals. A wild, mad, heart-thumping dash home on Wed as I watched my temperature guage peg out at hot...and the startling >flash!< of the camera at the speed trap on Beams Rd. A broken tooth.

Yet, at the same time nothing has been dire- just niggling. The car- which was low on water and oil- suffered no damage from my poor judgement. Strangely enough, the garage can't even find a leak. The tooth- I do have to wait two weeks to be seen- but at least it isn't painful. And, the ticket. At least the double fines/double demerits holiday weekend was over!

It is all, however, starting to wear me down.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Update on the camera situation

I took my problem camera into the camera shop at the mall today. (Thank goodness the mall was celebrating the queen's birthday by allowing us to shop for her.) The man at the desk first assumed I had the camera set to do not flash- but quickly found out that while it WAS set to that (now) it didn't matter. There was to be "no flash". Fortunately, I asked the right question.

Do you think it could be the battery?

And, vwala! It was.

I now own $60 worth of rechargeable batteries and the plan is that I will be back in business.

The curse is lifting.

Unfortunately, my cat isn't looking too good today. Her owner called me and I went in to meet with them. She's wayyyy to high and I'm reluctant to give her insulin for fear she'll be seizuring either at her mom's or at the clinic where she'd be alone (or I'd be spending my day off there. I'm not completely opposed to being there for her, it is just that if she needed IV glucose I cannot do it alone.) Of course, the best option is STILL the emergency clinic- but the owner won't consider that. Looking forward to Tuesday.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Once again, the Queen's Birthday

May: I wasn't so good about birthdays. I missed Carolyn's and Tim's and Diana's, my mother's and my own. I'm suspecting that subconsciously I've found it difficult to face another birthday- even though I think 47 is a very cool number. Prime. It will be a while before that is true again. I still need to take stock of all my stressors in an effort to identify why my immune system let the chicken pox back out of its little ganglionic box. I'm thinking, however, that maybe my birthday was a critical factor. Another year passing so far from home and family. How many more years will I have that home and family to be with? Or, in this case, not be with.

But, moving along. It is now June. And, I have no qualms about celebrating the Queen's birthday. That only brings good things- like days off from work. And, I got a terrific gift! My troublesome cat patient is doing well at home so I have been absolved from guilt about sending her home instead of keeping her in the hospital and working on her all weekend. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

So, Queen's birthday = Australian Games Expo = Kevin in Albury NSW for the weekend. I chose not to go. I went to the first. Somewhere here there is a post. It involved too much falling asleep while driving, bizarre brain drink/drive billboards, and Kevin being consumed with Carcassonne. It was a bit interesting to see snow flakes in the Australian air- but only briefly interesting. Mostly, I was bored and lonely. I can do that (or better) here.

With that in mind I spent Sunday as follows:

Go to Carseldine Garden Center and buy a couple of house plants with which Zelda can meditate and three 6 packs of sweet pea seedlings. They look so fresh and vulnerable. I felt like a melodrama villain sticking them in an Australian flower bed. Still, we've had rain several days this week and there is more to come. Perhaps, it will be enough to get them established. Perhaps, the winter sun will not fry them. I was smart enough to plant them in a variety of positions- full sun, partial sun, shade. One of them might make it. I hope it is a fragrant one.

After, I packed myself onto the standing room only train to head into the city. I was not going to the Lion's game- though I got off at Roma Street Station. Instead, I was heading to the Convention Center to the Scrap Booking and Paper Crafts show AND the Lifeline Book Sale. I immediately recognized my mistake as soon as I had handed my $10 ticket to the door person and enter the craft show. The hall was huge and packed - jam packed - with women all pushing and squeezing up to myriad booths where paper was being sold at extraordinary prices. (I think anytime paper is sold by the piece it is frightening.) I was hoping to be inspired- maybe by digital scrap booking. I certainly enjoy my digital blogging and my efforts at digital photo manipulation. There were several room dividers with scrap booking pages hanging and I do not exaggerate when I tell you that greater than 85% featured babies and children. Sorry. That is really boring. Too much pastel. Too much cutesy. Too fuzzy, too flowery, too nauseating. After 30 minutes I ran screaming from the hall.

The next hall down from the scrapbook show was the book sale. I'd estimate that the hall is about the size of 3 gymnasiums and each was packed with used books. The oldest, most worn, and smelliest are sold at standard prices based on book size. The clean and good condition books are sold as marked. The like new books have premium prices. I walked down to the newish books and walked down an aisle. While the tables are marked with general themes (Sports, Gardening, Hobbies, Health, Australiana) the books are then randomly lined up or piled up. It was too much disarray- too much stimulus overload- particularly after the human/paper pressure cooker that was the craft show. I had to leave. I couldn't imagine wanting any book badly enough.

So, it was still early. About 1:30. I intended to see "The Orphanage" at 4:15 on the other side of town. But, I remembered the earlier show was at 2:30. I decided to make a dash across the city to the Palace Centro for the movie.

I was amazingly successful at finding a bus that was headed for the valley. Unfortunately, I figured out that it was going that way as it pulled away from me. There was another one. Later.

I made it to Chinatown by 2:10 or so. It isn't too long of a walk to the theater. You just have to know where you're going. And, let me help you, it is best not to start by walking down Wickham Street in search of James. Eventually, I turned around, crossed the Brunswick Street Mall and, running, found the Palace Theater. 2:30 on the dot!

And, the movie?

It started at 2:03.

I considered wandering around until 4:15- but there was a 20% chance of rain and the dark clouds were starting to gather (weren't they?) and the movie would end after dark and I didn't have an umbrella and what was I going to do until 4:15??- so I went home, filed some papers, and watched OZ.

I don't know. Except for the gardening, it really wasn't any better than Albury. Well, I wasn't walking in a freezing drizzle. That's better. I'm suspecting that as an American, I am incapable of freely enjoying the Queen's Birthday. Maybe that capacity was traded in for our Bill of Rights. I think I'll go throw some tea into the river. That should exorcise any monarchical demons. I must be ready for tomorrow.

Oh, you like the photo? This wall is about 1/2 a block from the Palace. I did try to entertain myself for a bit. It is my antidote for the scrapbook pages I observed.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Work update

Here, things at the clinic have slowed down. I guess this is seasonal. Slow in winter. Additionally, this week we had some rainy days. The high was probably in the low 60's- so that meant that everyone was putting a jacket on their dog or wrapping the puppy up in a blanket. How funny. One new puppy owner wanted to know what would be too hot and too cold for the dog to be outside. I'm not really much of a believer in outside dogs- but they didn't ask about that. I told them about heat stroke and shade and fresh water...and that in Brisbane- where it has never gotten cold enough to snow- it probably was never going to be too cold for the dog.

Then, there was the new puppy owner who was going to wait for a couple more days before taking the puppy outside to start housebreaking because it was raining! I could not contain myself and had to say, "Do you know there are places in the world where it rains all the time? And, do you know what people do there? They put on a rain coat and grab an umbrella and take the dog out in the rain."

But, despite the downturn in numbers of visits, there's been a big jump in really sick animals: seizures (3), heart failure (2), diabetes with outrageous hypothermia (1), and a kelpie with a color change of the tongue!

Well, the kelpie feels OK, actually, But, I do need everyone's healthy cat thoughts going out to BooBoo who, sporting her new feeding tube, I sent home today for the long holiday weekend.

Thinking of Cleveland

We have a new vet at the clinic. He's an old school mate of my boss who is here to work so the boss can get a vacation. (Thank you for not leaving me alone!) As a bonus, he's going to work for me for 10 days at the end of the month! (and a big thank you for that!!)

Anyway, I was talking with him about Ohio. Australians cannot differentiate Ohio from Iowa. Sometimes, that can't even pronounce them- I guess it is hard for them. No silent R's. So, I had to move Ohio east and under the great lakes and, yes, way up north ("bordering Canada?" "Well, on the other side of the lake." "You get snow there?" "Yes") I was trying to connect Ohio with things he might know. So, naturally, I said I had last lived in Cleveland- where the river had caught on fire.

That didn't work for him.

But, it did reconnect me with Randy Newman.

I always liked this song - way before I lived in Cleveland. And, now, having lived in Cleveland I wistfully sing "Cleveland, city of light, city of magic".

The video is great- though I'm disappointed that the author cut out a verse in the beginning.

"Now the Lord can make you tumble
And the Lord can make you turn
And the Lord can make you overflow
But, the Lord can't make you burn."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

My new camera


I am not complaining about the lack of a view finder- though I would prefer to have one. I'm not convinced I will ever master the art of composing an image using two eyes. Maybe they just don't look in the same direction...

And, I'm not complaining (today) about the sarcastic remarks the camera makes about fuzzy images. Or, even the fact that images that it doesn't tell me are fuzzy- ARE. How does this function work? It has to be malevolent.

What I'm bitching about here is the fact that ever since I changed the batteries the VERY FIRST TIME the flash hasn't worked. It doesn't matter if it is set to AUTO, or red-eye, or ON- damn you- ON. It doesn't matter if I choose to shoot in "scene" mode and select a type of scene where flash is employed. The flash doesn't fire and the photograph is appropriately underexposed.

Yet- not fuzzy? What's with that Mr. New York Nikon??

Then, randomly the flash fires. Boom. Yet still- it must be out of sync because the photo is underexposed still.


I found a web site for Nikon Asia... that includes Australia. I wrote them. I sent along an example of a photo on which the flash did supposedly fire. At least we saw a pulse of light leave the camera...even if it didn't then bounce off the subjects and onto the receptor.

And, what, pray tell, did Nikon say?

"We think it is F#**ed; if it is under warranty you should mail it back to its country of origin."

Alas, somewhere between the time we bought it and the resulting laps around Manhattan and Queens and New Jersey and then Brisbane the receipt has been lost.


I don't know. I think I'm going through a pretty rough spell here. I hope the planets align soon so I can throw off all the bad cameras and viruses.

Today's post

Post meaning mail.

Though, it is obviously a blog post for today, too. Hmmmmm.

To: Ann
From: Divisional Returning Officer of PETRIE
Australian Electoral Commission

Dear Resident (what happened to Ann?)

It's important that you are correctly enrolled to vote because otherwise you can't vote (really?) in federal, state/territory or local government elections. Our records show that you are not enrolled for your current residential address.

Then it tells me what to do.

I don't know, but I'm guessing- since Kevin didn't get a similar letter- that all you need in Australia to entitle you to vote is a registered dog.

What a country! Truly, their priorities are in the right place!

Meanwhile, I really need to get myself registered as an absentee voter in the US. I guess it is obvious why there is nearly 100% voter compliance in Australia and something much, much, much smaller in the US.

Oh, and my belated congratulations to Barak Obama.