Saturday, October 13, 2007

I like sake

Ventured across town last night, to the coolest japanese restaurant in melbourne. Feasted and chatted, and pondered the big questions:

What exactly are those little translucent cubes in the fruit salad?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

get on the bandwagon

So, everyone's talking about burma.

Keep it up!

It's been going on for decades and rarely in the spotlight. George Orwell wrote a novel called Burmese Days, about his time there in the British Army. But it's a running joke that he actually wrote a trilogy: the others being Animal Farm & 1984.

Join a protest in solidarity with the people of Burma: 12pm 6th October in major cities across the world.

Write to your politicians.

Talk about it and read about it:
Burma Campaign UK

Don't let it slide back into darkness.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Amateur Astronomy

The three of us stood outside, peering through the washing on the Hills Hoist.

It that it?
Isn't Mars that red one there?
It said it's the brightest thing in the sky next to the moon. It has to be that one.
No, that's... thing. The dog star.
Is that the dog star?
Yeah, like in Harry. Sirius. Dog. Sirius.
Yeah... but it's not Mars. I went to astronomy camp!
OK. But it's supposed to be the closest in 60 000 years. Surely it's bright?
Let's google it then.

Mars came its closest to the Earth in 60 000 years on August 27...
We missed out by 4 years.
And now, it's the lunar eclipse, and banks of clouds as far as we can see.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bangkok bus

I wait with my friends for the big new bus. Eight hours ahead, but at least it's airconditioned and no changes required.

The elderly monks climb in at the same stop. Their orange-clad figures claim the back seat where they can lounge. I sit and watch the familiar hills slide by, the golden pagoda fade in the distance. The river Kwai is swollen beside the road yet the raft houses are high and dry - the water feeding the electric lights downriver. I wonder when I will return again, yet a tinny Jingle Bells keeps interrupting my thoughts - the senoir monk's mobile phone runs hot.

We stop at the 70km point, 2 hours in. My seat neighbour knows English for "15 minutes" so I stretch for 3. I have a plane to catch and wish to leave when the bus does.

In Kanachana, I am more brave. Hunger and the need for the loo have me miming to the conductor, who assures me it's ok. Even so, I rush and end up eating a fake tuna sandwich on fake bread - a Thai speciality in a land known for its food.

My new seatmate has a six-month old baby, who gurgles and bubbles and grabs. She is cute; I am used to blocking out kid noises. Tim Winton's Australia fills my imagination instead. Jingle Bells...

After 4 hours, her mother plucks up the courage to use her smattering of English. She used to have a Belgian boyfriend, she tells me with sadness in her face. She lives in Kanchana but she will not go back. This bus is her escape - she has her daughter and one bag, and she will not have to see her husband again. The violence of my novel is personified in the delicate Thai face beside me.

Later, she points out the Chao Praya river - we are here. We smile, I wish her well. I still have 24 hours of travel ahead - she has a whole new life to build.

As I board the plane, I catch myself humming Jingle Bells.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Night owl

I've just realised something that has not given me joy, but perhaps will allow me to face reality head on.

I'm not working another day shift until the end of July.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ethical Dilemma

No, not one of the big ones. But somewhat significant to my mental health.

I just got the roster for my next 3 month block. Now, this includes 2 months of nights, which is week-on, week-off, before I go on leave.

Only I'm only listed for 3 weeks of nights. Which means 8 weeks of leave. 2 unpaid, sure, but another glorious fortnight. And only 252 hours of work in a whole THREE MONTHS.

So: to just gleefully (and quietly) book my flights, or to point out that there appears to be a slight glitch? The principle of beneficence is calling.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Nobody expects the spanish inquisition

Today, my severalth-day-in-a-row at at home, I'm looking on the bright side.
I have
  • made yummy banana bread
  • finally emailed an old friend and potentially set up a week in a house on the Cote d'Azure (sp?)
  • finished knitting a scarf
  • planted some beetroot seeds
  • eaten figs
All of which are soul-nourishing and will hopefully sink in.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Corporate greed kills patients

Deliberately inflammatory title, I know. But most people with HIV/AIDS in most of the world cannot afford treatment and those who can access it are kept alive by cheap generic medicines. Having been beaten by the courts in South Africa 5 years ago, Novartis, one of the multinational pharmaceutical companies, is taking the Indian government to court to try to change existing patent laws. This would mean skyrocketing treatment costs, loss of access to drugs for those who need them, and thousands of unnecessary deaths.

And don't even get me started on R&D costs. Novartis made a gross profit of 23.7 billion US dollars in 2005, of which it spent 4.8 billion on R&D - mostly in West-oriented drugs like anticholesterol and niche anticancer therapies: the total R&D cost being half of what it spent on marketing. It's not exactly ploughing money into a noble quest to benefit mankind.

So - please, go to and sign their petition. Thousands of people will thank you.