Saturday, May 31, 2008

not such a beast

there might be a bit of hope for wombat yet. zac had her in the park yesterday afternoon and she was to the full extent of her extendable lead (its 4 m i think). she was right at the front edge of the park not far from the footpath. suddenly a woman and her little poodle appeared on the footpath (there's a carport wall blocking the view from the park onto the footpath). zac panicked because he was so far back from wombat and wombat stiffened (because poodles are scary). the poodle stiffened and did a couple growls and barks. wombat's usual response to an animal in her personal space (which is about 6-10 m) is try and lunge if we're not right next to her patting her and talking softly. zac said after the poodle gave a couple barks wombat turned and ran back to him!!! how good is that? of course the woman was quite scared anyway (earlier this week a small dog was mauled and killed by another dog in melbourne) and quickly crossed the road with her poodle. zac gave wombat a ton of praise and treats when she came over to him (i don't think he actually called her over, she just decided to come). maybe she'll learn to just move away from animals that scare her....

Friday, May 30, 2008

getting somewhere

after a couple weeks of randomly clicking the clicker and giving wombat food she's finally over her fear of it. i decided yesterday to start using it on walks. the first couple times worked well but then nicholson st was louder than usual with multiple trams and big trucks and motorbikes flying by and she didn't even seem to notice the click. i tried to turn up the volume/tone but then she freaked out when i clicked it (i had it attached to my left wrist so it wasn't too far above her head) so i had to turn it back to what she was used to. when we turned onto the top side street of our loop they were doing road works (cutting out a huge chunk of pavement i think) so there was no point in trying to click. then i ran out of food. i think it'll be better if we start the heeling clicker training in the park anyway. only problem is that the council hasn't cut the grass in about a month and because we've had lots of rain and then dew most mornings the grass is ALWAYS wet (and its LONG) so i get really wet in the park-- gotta get me some gum boots.
the photo above is the little bear in her brand new jacket (or horse blanket) that i got for $6 at a cheap shop. it fits her WAY better than the expensive one (that we got on sale but was still expensive) we got her. i'm gonna try to cut a slit in it so she can wear it with her harness on cold morning walks. she loved it though and curled up all evening in her chair and on the couch with it. we're thinking about using it for "pyjamas" for her so she doesn't keep waking up cold when she kicks her blanket off during the nite.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


not a computer one but a person one. there's some horrible virus going around that all the staff and half the children at work have had. it goes on for at least a couple weeks or so-- starts with a cold and then has a persistent cough that takes ages to get over). most people have just gotten over it this week. a couple people have tried going to the doctor just hoping it would be something that could be treated with antibiotics (even though they normally are against going to the doctor and antibiotics, they were getting desperate). its a virus. i have had a horrible cough now for the past 3 or 4 weeks!! it just doesn't go away. i am waiting for the day where i wake up and don't have cough attacks throughout the day (and especially at nite). last nite it got so bad i actually ended up vomiting from coughing so hard. it was horrible!!!

sleeping in

the past couple mornings have been freezing (literally). with the wind chill its been just over the freezing point. of course those are the 2 days of the week that i have to be at work at 8 instead of 10 and therefore i have to get out of bed first (and the heat has only been on about 2 minutes by that point). this morning apparently it was in the minuses with the wind chill. fortunately i wasn't up for that cuz its saturday and why would i get out of bed when its cold? when i finally decided i'd get up, i turned the heat on and just curled up in bed for another 30 minutes. even the dog isn't stupid enough to get out of bed when its that cold. the past few days she doesn't get up when zac's alarm goes off (or this morning she would have normally gotten up when his alarm would be going off-- she runs like a well tuned clock). we actually called her softly and even talked to each other (usually causes her to come flying on the bed to dive under the covers). no way was she gonna leave the coziness of her bed to come to us (even if it is just for a second until she is under our covers by our feet). the only time she's gotten up during the nite is when she's stretched and her blanket has come off her so she's cold. as soon as i tuck her in again (after she wakes us up) she's happy and sleeps until she has to get up.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

it's not just me

i'm sitting here with my hands feeling like icicles and 4 layers on (including my nice warm fleece jacket) thinking its ridiculous that i'm cold. the heat has been on in the house for 40 min. then i went to the weather graph web page-- its not even 4C out!!! and its not even 1C with the wind chill!!!!!!! it's actually almost freezing out. of course its one of the days i start work at 8 and will be hopping on my bike shortly to make the ride there (fortunately a very short one) and then probably spending half a hour outside setting up the yard.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


i was just about hit in a round-a-bout on my way home from work today. i think this the 3rd time i've come close to getting hit in this round-a-bout. i'm very cautious going thru it so when i see that the car that's supposed to yield to me isn't slowing, i hit my brakes in the middle of the round-a-bout. the woman who just about hit me tonite had her window down a few inches and after i slammed my break and put my feet down about 2 feet from the side of her car i yelled a not very nice word at her window as she passed. NO RESPONSE!! didn't flinch or anything. i have no idea if she even saw me (or heard me) after the fact. not sure how you can miss someone if you're actually paying attention while driving because its a pretty well lit round-a-bout and i had a very bright flashing white light on the front of my bike. one of my co-workers had a bike accident a few weeks ago (and isn't back at work yet). not sure if a car hit her or if she just fell but it was pretty bad (she's apparently missing some teeth now). i know i don't want to be part of another bike accident so i do as much as i can to avoid them but drivers need to be aware of cyclists (and there are a lot of them around melbourne) and be watchful for them as well as cars.

Monday, May 19, 2008

each country has its own

living in oz, i regularly hear news stories (at least once a month, often more frequently) of someone being attacked by a shark a croc or bitten by a snake. i was reading the canada club newsletter and came across this article. it's similar to those stories i hear here in oz only it was a bear that was attacking. that man is lucky to be alive. zac still wants to see a grizzly.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


we bought a training clicker today to help in teaching wombat to heel (and possibly other things). i started out doing click then reward to teach wombat that the click means treat. she didn't seem to focused and was just trying to grab treats off me. i took her outside and tried again. i clicked and she cowered. we happened to get a clicker that you can adjust the tone/loudness so i put the volume down and tried again. she cowered again (she still took the treat but was on the ground shaking). i put it to the lowest volume (which is still quite loud) and she still cowered. i don't know why she's making the association that something horrible is going to happen to her when it clicks but she is. we gave her a break and tried again later. same thing. i think we've had 3 or 4 sessions (of about a minute or so) where we click it and she looks terrified (but takes the treat). hopefully she'll learn quickly that click means treat and not something horrible. i thought she would pick it up right away because she's very smart when it comes to associations so i'm not sure what's happened in her past that's made her terrified of the clicking sound.
we could probably teach her to heel by using the clicker every time she pulls but i don't want it to be a negative thing so we're gonna keep trying to condition her to click=treat.

always changing

the one thing about melbourne weather is it's always changing. we had 3 really nice days this past week where it was warm and we even saw blue sky (for a couple weeks it was very grey, all day, every day which is kind of unusual here). then yesterday was soooooo cold (i think with the windchill it never felt over 7C, it got up to 10C without the windchill) and it rained the ENTIRE day (very rare here)-- the rainfall is right off the little black graph above. today its already at 13C (even with the windchill it's still warmer than yesterday's high) and the only rain we'll get is a few light showers (if any). so glad it doesn't stay really cold for long or i would just end up going into hibernation for the winter.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

keeping warm

i've been sitting at the computer for a half hour or so and thought i was freezing just cuz i wasn't moving much. then i checked the weather. there's a reason i'm freezing: our house isn't much warmer than outside right now (i just noticed that wind chill too!!). i've turned on the heat and will be warm very soon. we also have this happening outside:
lots of rain!! it'll be good if the majority of it makes it to the catchment areas but gardens and parks around our neighbourhood could use a good rain too. soooooo glad its saturday and i can just stay inside all day. later, when i want to go get some more veggies to make some good warming soups like this one from soup for all seasons zac's got the work car cuz he's on-call so he can drive me to a good green grocer. for now though i'm gonna go curl up with the dog and be lazy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

my favourite work day of the year

wild action comes to visit every year. its my favourite visitor that we get. unfortunately this year the second day that they came fell on my r.d.o. and i even though i love it, i'm not gonna come in on my day off to see it (i have come in early in the past to see it though). we always get the aussie animal talk that they do which is really good. i feel a bit bad for all the reptiles and other animals in their little pens that are then taken out for everyone to touch (and a few people to hold). the handler is pretty good about being aware of the animal at most times and they do put them away if they're becoming distressed (and when they get back home they have large enclosures to run in). i was hoping to hold the salt water croc (its only a baby but its pretty big and heavy) but she wasn't wanting to be held. i did get to hold one of the teenager snakes. i was impressed that not one child in the group had issues touching or holding the animals (every year there's been a couple children who are quite hesitant but we usually encourage them to at least touch 1 animal). one of the dad's told us his daughter is quite scared of animals when he found out that wild action was coming. she never showed any of that to us. she touched every animal and she even held the crocodile at the end of the talk (her dad was quite impressed when he saw the photo)!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


i finally got the insurance money thru and replaced my bike!!! the shop where i originally got my bike was willing to get the same model in from the manufacturer for me and i figured i'd go with that since i couldn't find anything else i liked in the price range i had. for some reason i never checked the bike shop on syndey road. zac and i happened to walk in there on the weekend and zac pointed out a bike he thought might be a good one for him in the future. i looked over and saw the GT transeo. it looked good and exactly what i needed (i didn't do much mountain bike riding on my avalanche and this was a very similar looking bike but more of a hybrid frame and wheels). it was also on sale for only $439 (i knew i would only be getting a maximum of $500 from the insurance money since my bike was taken from open air in the front of our house). i went back to ivanhoe cycles today to see if they had any transeo 4.0's in stock just since i've been dealing with ivanhoe cycles for a couple years and they have good service. unfortunately they didn't have any in (just the more expensive 3.0) and they weren't able to get any. i called the shop on sydney rd (ray's) and they had several in stock and in the right frame size! i went and tested it out and liked the feel so i got it (and a new lock and pannier rack). now i'm back to my own bike again (i just gotta get used to the different feel so it really feels like my own again).


we booked a flexicar for today since we needed one for tonite (to go meet zac's nan for dinner). flexicar had a special deal on for 24 hires so we decided to do that since it would just be slightly more money than hiring it for the 3 1/2 hours we would need it for dinner. the cars at the 3 closest locations we normally book at were already taken during the time we needed (that's why you book more than a day in advance for long bookings) so zac booked a different car near my work which happened to be a 4 door smart car instead of the usual honda jazz cars that we normally get. i've actually wanted to try one of these out. i got in, figured out the wipers (there was dew still on all the windows) and the air and thought i was ready to go. then i looked down and saw this knob: not automatic looking but not manual looking either. i stared at it a minute. it would have to be automatic cuz all flexicars are automatic. i turned it on and move the stick from the N (which i knew would be neutral) to the A which i assumed meant automatic. it worked. i rolled the couple meters to the stop sign and prepared to turn left onto a major road (which fortunately isn't too busy this part of the day). i flicked the wipers on trying to put the turn signal on (that's when i realized the turn signal was opposit of the the honda jazz and most other cars i have driven here because its a european design). i got onto the road and stepped on the gas to accelerate. the car didn't really gain much speed and felt like it was only gonna go at this slow speed. i quickly turned off at the first side street (where a guy that turned behind me quickly overtook me). i kept moving slowly, trying to figure the whole thing out (and while i'm doing this both the front and rear wipers are going on different settings (and completely unnecessary now) and i can't figure out how to get them off. i finally found an angle spot to park in on the other side of a round about (and then realized now i was going to have to try to reverse out). i played with different dials until i finally figured out which ones were front wipers and rear wipers and which way meant off. then i flipped thru the flexicar book and found that they'd attached a tiny smart car operating manual in the back (yea!). pretty much decided i was doing everything right, i just needed to slow down on accelerating because it was going to act a bit like a manual in changing gears even when i had it in the fully automated setting (A). i went to reverse. i had to back up a slight slope to get out of the space. when i took my foot off the break i'd roll forward. i was a bit scared to put much gas on in case the R setting wasn't working right and i'd go right over the curb (or kerb as they spell it in oz). after a couple tries i gave it more gas and it went back (so it runs a lot like a manual, which i've only driven about 3 times in my life and the last time would have been almost 7 years ago). the drive home was a bit terrifying but i started to get the hang of it. it just has a very manual feel to it and is slow to change gears and you need to be very light on the acceleration. i drove out to ivanhoe later and started to feel quite comfortable in it (other than one minor incident in an underground car park where i backed up to straighten out and then couldn't get it to go into any gear (either A or using the up arrow to go up to 1 from the 0 the dash display was telling me). i got it though and the man i was holding up because of this waited patiently. not sure how much i really like the smart car. the slow acceleration and gear change is a bit tough to get used to. maybe its better in the partially manual setting (or if you can get fully manual smart cars).

Thursday, May 08, 2008

road rage

this morning a driver deliberately took out a group of 50 cyclists in sydney. what kind of person would think its ok to purposely cut off a group of (or even a single) cyclist? its more horrible that other motorists (that's plural) actually jeered at the injured cyclists lying on the road after the accident!!
(photo from the age website-- taken by nick moir)

still sick

i'm still sick (the horrible allergies turned into a horrible head cold that just won't go away) but this is about a kid at work.
i actually had this kid in mind when i did a search and found that great link to an article on "how sick is too sick for kinder" in my last post. she was brought in on tuesday and her and her dad had a conversation about she would be going home at lunch time because she was a bit unwell. the main teacher tried to subtly hint that maybe the child shouldn't be there (usually she is amazing with dealing with parents but for some reason on this issue she has a hard time telling parents they need to take their child home). that didn't work and the child was left. the teacher was sure she'd had panadol. i asked the child later and she said she had (and she started fading about 20 minutes before her mom arrived at lunch). so she spent 4 hours at kinder playing with her friends, spreading her germs around. apparently she didn't come in yesterday (i didn't either). today she came in and seemed fine. i saw she was getting picked up near the end of the day. at lunch she started to fade. she looked HORRIBLE and felt hot. we took her temp and she had a fever so we called her parents (we also asked her at this point if she'd had panadol and she said she had) we helped her make up her bed (since rest time was starting anyway). she sat on her bed crying for her mom (which is REALLY unlike this child-- she would never cry for one of her parents). she then told my co-worker how to get to her house and asked if she could take her there!!! the poor kid. the first 15-20 min of rest time she sat quietly sobbing on her bed. she fell asleep 5 minutes before her dad arrived. i think he was almost just going to leave her there sleeping (which we wouldn't have let happen). he woke her up and she just crawled into his arms crying about feeling yucky. he started saying things like "you're sick again! you were fine this morning and now you're sick again! you were all better, what happened?" if his daughter hadn't been crying in his arms i would have told him we knew he'd given her panadol this morning (so obviously he knew she wasn't better) and that she needs to stay home when she's unwell because its not fair to her or anyone else. we had another child turn up sick this morning too (which i knew there was something wrong with him from the second i said hello to him). fortunately after his mom spent 20 minutes trying to pry her extra clingy child from her, she realized he was actually sick (he looked pretty pale and sickly) and took him home with her.
i showed my co-workers the article and we're gonna print it up (or a summary of it) for every parent. hopefully it'll help parents think thru what happens when they send their sick child to kinder.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

too sick

One of the biggest reoccurring issues we deal with at work is sick children who should have never been left at kinder that day. A LOT of parents tend to give their kid some panadol when they say they feel unwell in the morning and send them off to kinder (not mentioning anything to the staff) expecting they'll be fine. panadol is NOT A CURE. it just brings any fever down and temorarily takes away any aches or pains the child was feeling. it only lasts 4 hours (and we will not administer it at kinder-- if the child needs it they shouldn't be there). every time a parent does this we figure it out by lunch time when the child looks horrible, complains that they feel bad, has a fever, doesn't want to eat and usually end up curled up in a ball on a rest mat or in the book area. its about that time that we ask them if they felt unwell at all before kinder, they say yes. we ask if they had any medicine and they say yes. then we call the parents and tell them they need to come and get their sick child (and more often than it should happen parents give some reason that they can't come right away like another child sleeping at home that they don't want to wake, can't get out of work....... we're now stuck with a sick child--- that the parents KNEW was sick). this child has now been at kinder for a few hours (and my be there for another hour or more when all they want to do is cuddle up at home) spreading their germs to all their friends (and then onto friends families) and the teachers/staff (panadol doesn't make their illness less contagious). i found a good article about how sick is too sick and it had 3 great questions that parents should ask themselves before sending a child off to kinder (or child care or school) when the child says they aren't feeling well:

  1. Will my child be well enough to comfortably and happily participate in the activities of the day?
  2. Will my child's care provider be able to care for my child without it affecting their ability to look after the other children?
  3. Will my child pass the illness on to their playmates if I send them in today?
yes it's probably hard for parents to take time off work to stay home with a sick child but sending them into kinder drugged up on panadol isn't helping anyone (especially the child) and it can make for a very hard day for the child's carers as well as putting everyone else at risk for getting the child's illness (including pregnant mothers/staff) and the child will most likely not be cared for in the way they should be (we can't just sit and cuddle one child and its horrible to see an unwell child curled up on a chair just wanting to go to bed).

if your child needs to be given any medication for cold/flu symptoms they aren't going to be well enough to attend kinder and will be much better off staying at home to rest and recover.

Monday, May 05, 2008

finally a win!

the demons have been pretty disappointing this year. by the end of the second round the total points they'd lost by was 199. they continued to lose in rounds 3, 4, 5 and 6. finally yesterday afternoon we got to hear the melbourne theme song for the first time this year! it was a good game too (well, the second half was good-- at the end of the first half they were down by 50). the managed to make an amazing come back though and won 119-113! now they just gotta keep doing that so they can get off the bottom of the ladder.

Friday, May 02, 2008

steady and not

i was excited this morning that the over nite low was 11 point something and at 7.30am it was holding steady. that was a good sign that once the sun actually rose higher (the sunrise was actually visible too and not hidden behind thick grey clouds) it would warm up (and 11 isn't too cold anyway). it did. it was a nice sunny morning. i went home for my hour lunch at 11.30. when i put the dog our before going back i noticed some THICK grey clouds coming. i rode back to work and big drops of rain started falling just as i parked my (borrowed) bike undercover. i went outside and started organizing the kids for lunch on picnic tables on a narrow undercover area. the sky got REALLY dark and just after they all sat down the rain started POURING. then thunder and lighting. the wind picked up and hail started blowing onto the children closest to the edge of the covered area. we had to move most of the kids inside for the rest of lunch (where we were trying to set up beds for rest time). a few braved the cold wind and sat huddled along the wall watching the rain pour down and flood the yard while the ate. by the time the last child finished eating and we were ready to start rest time the sun was out, the sky was blue and it was warm again. i guess that's why they say melbourne is 4 seasons in one day.


its been going on for weeks and getting worse. i've never had allergies (other than dust but that was avoidable and only short term affects when i did stir it up) until right before i moved to oz. somehow i developed hayfever type allergies a couple weeks before i moved down here (and after taking "non-drowsy" pseudophedrine tablets i discovered i'm one of the few people that actually get REALLY drowsy from pseudophedrine). the hayfever has never been really bad and rarely do i have to take anything for it. a few weeks ago it started getting worse so i was taking tablets most days. then the tablets quit working about a week or so ago. its been horrible. they tend to flare up at nite (which makes me think its something in our house) and i spend the whole evening feeling miserable with itchy, watery eyes, an itchy nose that constantly drips and when its at its worse, itchy throat/ears. i've ended up going to bed before 9 most nites and wondering if i'll make it to work the next day. after waking up several times thru the nite i get up in the morning and feel fine after blowing my nose a few times. i finally called the clinic today to make an appointment to see what i can do about this. the earliest they can fit me in is tuesday afternoon. i went back to the chemist this afternoon and they gave me something that's slightly different than the other tablets i've taken (and cheaper) so i'm gonna give that a try tonite and hopefully that'll do something otherwise it's gonna be a long 4 days til i get to the doctor. i'd like to find out what's causing the allergy (and hopefully be able to avoid it) or it'd be good if the allergy just went away.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

don't ignore the blue blob

earlier this morning that blue blob was west of melbourne (and i'm sure it was smaller too). i had to bike out to north melbourne (about 5 or 6 km i think) so i checked the forecast. it said "a few scattered showers later in the day". i looked at the weather graph with the rain chart on the side and saw the blue blob heading melbourne's direction but i chose to believe the weather forecast (which was probably put up 12 hours ago or more) and just took a light non-waterproof windbreaker with me (i was worried that if i didn't rain then i'd have my bag full of rain gear that i didn't need and barely any room for groceries). it poured down my entire ride home (i still stopped for groceries and walked around the supermarket dripping wet). at least i got to come home and have a nice hot shower and put on some dry clothes. next time i'm gonna pay more attention to the rain chart and not the predicted forecast.