Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mad Cows and Bone Marrow Donation

One of my greatest annoyances in is that I am not able to donate blood in Australia. I used to give blood every three months. As a child, my mother would drag me along to the blood bank with her, where she would donate blood every three months (and then there was the wonderful milkshakes in tin cups and the barley sugar they gave you afterward) so there is no fear in going to the blood bank. I've got great venous return, so I can drop a pint in just under five minutes.

I liked giving blood.

Then, in the early 2000s, they brought in this rule. If you'd lived in the United Kingdom for more than six months between the years of 1980 and 1996, they will not take your blood. It's to do with there being the possibility of you passing on CJD - or the human variant of Mad Cow Disease.

I remember my friend Sam and I donating blood on the evening before the ban came into place. That was the last time I donated blood. 1991.

This still makes me rather annoyed. A government agency is discriminating against me and says that I am a mad cow. Strangely, they will happily take my blood in Britain.

Okay, I do get the rationale. There is no test for Mad Cow Disease. It's an insidious condition that gives you an awful death.

Then there is the history that has made the blood bank jittery. In Australia, the during the AIDS epidemic in the eighties, before drugs were found to abate the disease's passage, most Australian haemophiliacs contracted the disease and died through receiving infected blood products. I get why the blood bank needs to be cautious and because of this the Australian Blood Service is now one of the safest in the world.

Still, I'm now in another predicament and it's got me grumpy all over again about being deigned by the Australian Red Cross as being a Mad Cow (What's the bet on my file they have a crossed out cow on the cover?)

As many of you know, my niece Lolly is currently undergoing treatment for leukaemia. We found out the other week that she will be requiring a stem cell transplant in the near future. The doctors are confident of finding her a match - hopefully her sister will be able to donate, but if not, there is a world wide registry of stem cell or as they were formally known, bone marrow donors.Along with this, she's been requiring numerous blood, plasma and blood product transfusions to help keep her alive. (The treatment really is awful - I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy)

So here was my question to the blood bank this morning. As a mad cow, can I be on the bone marrow register?

The short answer is yes, but...

I had a lovely woman answer my questions. She's in the same boat as me. Born in England during the exclusion time (1980-1996 - if you spent more than six months in the British Isles during this time, that's it, no vampire visits for you) she can't give blood. A close relative of her's required a bone marrow transplant a couple of years ago and the family rallied.

For Mad Cows to go on the bone marrow register, you have to arrange for the tests privately and ask to be put on the bone marrow register - and they will take you as long as there are no other conditions that will stop you donating - Mad Cow Disease is not an issue. This means a trip to the doctor to arrange the tests and you need to pay the pathology fees yourself - it was $60 when they did these over ten years ago, so I reckon it's going to be a couple of hundred dollars now.

To me, this does not matter. I'll be going down to the doctors in the next few weeks and asking for the tests. I won't ask to be matched with my niece, it's more than likely a waste of resources, but I would be very happy to help somebody else down the track if the need arises.

Thing is, if I wasn't a Mad Cow, I could rock up to the blood bank and they would do the tests for free.

I suppose what I'm saying, asking really, if you can donate blood, take the hour out of your day and go and do it. If you're not a mad cow or don't have something that precludes you from putting yourself of the register, go have the test done and put yourself on the bone marrow register, especially as blood donors can ask to go on the register and not have to cough up for the pathology tests like I will (and any other mad cows that want to go on the register).

It's global, it's free, it's a couple of minutes of discomfort and you could very well help to save somebody's life down the track.

The number for the Red Cross in Australia is 13 95 96, or go to .

I wish I could give blood, I really do. 400,000 in Australia are not allowed to donate blood because they're deemed to be mad cows too.

The blood bank needs 27,000 donations a week to keep people alive at a minimum.

Please help if you can.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

I'll Spread My Wings and Learn to Fly Meme

Well, I'm sitting here writing my first draft of my assignment that's due in a fortnight, doing the ironing and finally I remember that I should do the meme. Argh. The writing is nearly there. So is the ironing. And it's bloody cold.

The questions are, as always, from Sunday Stealing.

1. Have you ever had a pen pal?

Yes. I had one at university for a number of years. We ended up meeting when we were both in London. I still have his letters somewhere.

2. What’s your favorite breed of dog?

I like big soppy dogs like golden retrievers. But if I could have any dog and if I had the space, it would be a a Bernese Mountain Dog. Love them.

Image result for bernese mountain dog

3. Can money buy happiness?

No. But it does help smoothe a few things on the way to happiness.

4. Do you listen to music when you’re down?

Sometimes. I prefer to watch a favourite movie when I'm down  to cheer me up.

5.What is one thing you spend way too much money on?

High end lipstick. How many red lipsticks does a girl need?

6.Can you honestly say you’re okay right now?


7.What was the last thing you spent money on?

Tonight's dinner. Didn't feel like cooking. Too cold in the kitchen.

8.Is your current hair color mostly your natural hair color?

At the moment my hair is a rather fetching auburn red. I have no idea what my natural hair colour is at the moment other than there is a bit of grey in it. Thank goodness for hair colour.

9.Who have you texted in the last 24 hours?

Blarney, my sister, my step sister and Mee from the gym to have her set me up for Pump Class.

10.Were you in a good mood last night?

Sort of. Didn't get as much writing done as I would have liked.It's hard being up to your armpits in war records and be in a really good mood.

11.Do you have a reason to smile right now?

Yes, but I'm not telling you why.

12. How often do you hold back what you want to say?

Regularly. There are some stupid people out there.

13. Do you think that in the end, everything will fall into place?

Yes. I'm counting on it.

14.Are you currently looking forward to anything?

I'm looking forward to lots of things. I'm an optimist. It's how I do things. Always something to look forward to.

15.Do you have any TV shows on DVD?

Yes. You can't go past The West Wing and Orange is the New Black. Rather fold of Embarrassing bodies too.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Lets Not Be Difficult Meme

Another weekend, another meme. Once again supplied by Sunday Stealing. Once again, doing question and doing some sort of chore as there are a few things to be done. And no homeless guy in the stairwell (may he be well and warm)

1. Do you like your movies and books to be more lighthearted or serious? 

I like my books and films on the serious side most of the time. This is not to say I don't like the more lighthearted stuff on occasion, but I'm into art house and literature. It's just me.

 2. What’s more important, first impressions or lasting impact? 

First Impressions. They're very rarely wrong.

 3. Order these areas of psychological health from what you need the least improvement into what you need the most improvement in: physical, emotional, social, intellectual, environmental, spiritual 

Umm, actually, I'm in a reasonably good state at the moment and I'm running well in most areas. My environment could use a kick up the bum at times and I would like to spend more time on my physical health, but generally, I'm doing well.

4. Do you react appropriately to things and control your feelings? 

Normally. Though I'm getting a bit ratty over the churlish antics of our out -of-control government at the moment. But I do try to behave most of the time.

5. Do you have stable relationships? 

I have wonderful stable friendships. I'm lucky like that.

6. Do you need to be in a relationship to feel good about yourself? 

Thankfully, no.

7. Which is the clearest and most concise, your thoughts, your speech or your writing? Which is the least clear and concise? 

I've very clear in my writing. My speech can go around the houses at times.

8. Are you always trying to learn new things? 


9. Do you feel at peace? 

Most of the time.

10. Do you have strong morals and ethics that you believe in and adhere to? 

I'm not sure that I have strong morals and ethics, but I do believe in being good, kind and compassionate  at all times. That will do. I don't have Jesus telling me what to do, and I'm glad about that.

11. Do you think of the needs of all humanity or just the needs of yourself and those you know? 

As a big lefty I tend to think about humanity a lot. Of course I truly believe that you can't look after others until you look after yourself, but what is good for one, should be good for all.

12. Do you recycle? 

Yes, as much as I can.

13. Are you active in your community? 

Not as much as I could be. I'm pretty limited in my community activities.

14. Are you sensitive to the needs of others? 

I'm an empath. Of course I am.

15. Do you dress up to go out? 

Sometimes. When required.

16. What could make you lose respect for someone? 

If you hurt an animal intentionally, try and defend any member of the current Federal Government (particularly Bronwyn Bishop) or barrack for Essendon, my estimation will go down immeasurably.

17. If you won $1,000 every week until you die, would you still go to work?

No. I might cut down my hours, but I'd still work.

18. What trend has been getting on your nerves lately?

The swing to ultra right wing politics. Scary and annoying.

19. Do you forgive yourself when you make a mistake?

I try to, after a short period of self-flagellation.

20. Is ignorance really bliss?

Yes. I just wish I could be ignorant sometimes.

21. What can be described as ‘even better than the real thing’?

Pictures of cats on the internet. Lots of cuteness without the sneezing.

22. What’s in your wallet right now?

Lots of store cards, a couple of credit cards, a few too many old coffee cards and receipts and about seventy bucks in cash.

23. Do you write letters that you never send?

No, though I compose a few in my head that never get written.

24. Do you ever get the feeling people are laughing at you?

Regularly - old habits die hard, Most people don't give a crap what you're doing, let alone have the energy to laugh at you.

25. Who’s the one person you’d like to drop a house on?

At this point in time, Bronwyn Bishop, but hopefully she's standing next to Tony Abbott when that happens. Evil, corrupt cow.

(image courtesy of Lincoln Schultz)

For those not in Australia follow the story here: This is corruption and hypocrisy at its best.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The I want to be Famous Meme

It's been a bit of a strange day. It's freezing outside. Wet and horrible. I've been out to go to pump and that is about it. It's been a puddle around home, do the mason's books, get some cooking and study done and that was about it.

What's made the day a bit more unusual was finding a homeless person asleep in the stairwell. Okay, what does one do? Call the police? Call a charity? Ask them to go? A bit of a hard one. I was on my way to the gym and as I only heard him (and smelled him) and the weather was so revolting I gave him the benefit of the doubt and hoped he'd moved on by the time I got.

Two hours later and he was on the landing. A quick word, the offer of food and a word to the neighbours, we're not calling the police. Rather, we've asked he move on and we've got the crisis shelter people's number on hand if he come back. My downstairs neighbours have sorted that.

It's really sad to think that he has nowhere to go.

Anyway, here's this week's blog. Questions courtesy of Sunday Stealing, as usual.

1. Would you like to be famous? In what way? 

I want to be a famous writer - like JK Rowling.

2. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

Every so often I rehearse complaint calls, so I can get everything I need to into the call. That's about it.

3. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you? 

Wake up, make love, have a decadent breakfast, go for a nice long walk, read a book, relax, cook something lovely, make love again, maybe go see a movie, then out to dinner, then cuddles. That sounds pretty good to me.

4. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else? 

I sing to myself all the time. The last time I sang in front of somebody was yesterday - I was at the Art Gallery cafe with Em. I sang her a couple of songs from my current research project - and not too loud either.

5. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want? 

The body of a 30-year-old - this having an aging body is crap.

6. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? 

Who thinks about that stuff? No. All I hope is that it's quick and painless.

7. For what in your life do you feel most grateful? 

My friends and my brain. Could not do without either.

8. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? 

Hmm. Yes, but I'm not in the mood for rehashing five years of conversations with my therapist today.

9. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? 

The ability to rid Australia of this current federal government with the flick of my magic wand, now that would be something.

10. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know? 

I think all I want to know at the moment is that I will be secure into my old age. I'd like to know that.

11. What does friendship mean to you? 


12. What roles do love and affection play in your life? 

Not very much at the moment, but that is hopefully changing soon.

13. When did you last laugh? 

Friday night. Went and saw Magic Mike XXL. Haven't laughed so much in ages. It's really funny in a brainless sort of way.

14. Are you a morning person or a night owl? 

More a morning person.

15. Seen anything weird lately?

Encountering the homeless person in the stairwell this morning could be classed as weird.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Today's Spray: It Can't Be Just Me

I'm reading George Orwell's "1984" at the moment - okay, it's one of the three books I have on the go (along with Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall" and Karen Joy Fowler's "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves").

I've heard a lot about this book for many years, but have never read it myself.

I think Orwell missed the mark by thirty years.

Newspeak. The Daily Hate. The Thought Police. They're all here in some for our other. The current federal government appears to have it's own version of Newspeak, twisting and turning the facts to it's own advantage. I'm still trying to work out how you can get a far right nutter like Tim Wilson, pay him close to $350,000 to have a seat on the Human Rights Commission and let him get away with claiming $77, 000 worth of expenses and have nobody question this. Seriously?

Okay, but there are bigger problems. I find myself agreeing with Barnaby Joyce. This is a really difficult thing for me to admit to. For the most part, I think Barnaby Joyce is an idiot.

But not on this matter. Barnaby Joyce thinks that the following is moronic as well - and it's a pity he didn't know about it on Monday because he could have gone on Q&A and really gone to town on the matter. Instead he listened to the Prime Moron's edict that no cabinet member was to go on Q&A until Ray Martin had sipped a few lattes on the matter.

What's got us so riled?

See, our Minister for Destroying the Environment, Greg (K)Hunt has just signed off a proposal for a large Chinese Conglomerate to build an enormous coal mine (yes, coal mine - one of those things that the Prime Moron thinks is good for humanity) in the Liverpool Plains. The Liverpool Plains is prime agricultural land.

My first thought when I heard about giving this project the go-ahead is "What the...??? Seriously?!

For a few more facts go here and here.

Oh, and how big is this bloody carbon spewing monstrosity?

The footprint of the Shenhua Watermark coal mine overlaid on the City of Melbourne.

(Graphic courtesy of The Age)

But no, it's true. This government would sell their grandmother's to the highest paying pimp. Is there like nothing that this mob won't do to fuck up this country more than it is already.

Other than coal mining, which we know is on the outer, makes a complete hash of the environment, poisoning the water tables and heaven forbid, what it does for carbon footprint of a new coal mine, what about the bloody farmers? What about having viable land to produce food - you know, that stuff that keeps us all alive? What about not putting a finite resource on something that is far more valuable doing what it's doing at the moment - that being growing food - or is the Federal Government thinking that Climate Change will wipe out the crops in the next ten years and why should we protect agricultural land, hey? Oh, that's right. The Prime Moron thinks Climate Change is crap.

Just as coal seam gas mining is proving to poison water tables, making hundreds of people sick and sending people off the land, what the hell is a bloody coalmine in a food bowl going to do. Sheesh.

I'm not sure what has me more perturbed - the thought of all of this going through and we have an eyesore of a Chinese Coal Mine just south of Tamworth - or the fact that for once, I find myself agreeing with Barnaby Joyce.

It's like the day I found myself agreeing with Bob Katter. I called my psychologist for an appointment when that happened. I have a feeling it was over a similar matter.

If we don't look after our farms and our farmers, what the hell are we going to eat? If we mine the shite out of our food bowls, what will generations to come have to nourish themselves. And yeah, I'll admit to being a country girl at heart.

You can't eat money and you can't eat coal.

You'd think they'd know that by now.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Mash Up Meme

Here I was thinking there'd be a Fourth of July Meme hot off the press from Sunday Stealing, but no, there are some reasonable questions here.

My afternoon has been shuffled around a bit. We were going to go to Heide for Afternoon Tea today with Jonella, Thom and Teddy, but Teddy's fallen ill. This gives me a bit more time to write and go see Blarney and maybe do some cleaning.

And a happy Fourth of July to my American readers.

1. What’s overdue for a good cleaning?

My book cases are really need a good sorting out. They're really dusty.

2. What’s overdue for some kind of professional examination, service, maintenance, or upkeep?

I'm pretty good at upkeep. I visit the dentist every six months. I have an annual check up at the doctor. My car is serviced every nine months (that reminds me, must book that in soon). The one thing that is probably overdue, and I do need to think about this at some stage - I really should have my carpets professionally cleaned. Though then again, as I'm renting, I'll get this done if I ever move out of here. I borrow a friend's Dyson every six months which keeps some of the muck at bay.

3. Who’s overdue for a phone call or letter to you?

Reindert and I are overdue for a call. We keep missing each other.He's been travelling, I've been travelling. It will happen.

 4. What’s overdue for an appearance in your neighborhood?

I would say that I haven't seen the police down my street for a while, but I was woken up at 5 a.m. to them beating on a neighbours door asking them to turn the music down. I was thinking about calling them when they turned up.

 5. Who’s overdue for a good comeuppance?

Most of the Australian Federal Parliament front bench. (see yesterday's blog) Can't wait for that.

 6. What’s a gross food you like anyway?

I have a big love for Kentucky Fried Chicken. I know it's gross, but it's sooooo good. I try and stay away from it.

 7. Who’s an unlikeable person you like anyway?

I really love Kevin Spacey in "House of Cards". He's awful, and wonderful all at the same time.

 8. What’s an unpleasant task you enjoy performing anyway?

I'm an ironer. I love ironing. Most people think I'm nuts because I love ironing. I think ironing is very relaxing.

 9. What’s a dumb song you enjoy anyway?

 Do I have to nominate just one song? I love lots of silly songs. I'm currently looking into the life of my great grandmother and I found this treasure from the year I'm currently writing about. My grandfather used to sing this to me.

Here is another silly go-to song:

 10. What’s a lousy restaurant you frequent anyway?

I live in Melbourne. There are few lousy restaurants in Melbourne. Though, in saying this, there are lots of dodgy Vietnamese restaurants down the road. Dodgy is different to lousy. Theses places don't look much. Formica tables, plastic plates, even more plastic flowers on the table, but great food. The Vinh Ky and the Loi Loi are favourites.

 11. What's your favourite Sci-fi film/program etc?

I still miss Quantum Leap.

 12. Have you ever had a proper Tarot reading?

I'm a professional tarot reader. Of course I've had a "proper" tarot reading.

 13. Have you ever used the phrase "back in my time" to someone younger than you?

I find myself using that phrase more and more. Like explaining to a colleague about Monty Python. He was only just discovering them. Sheesh.

 14. Have you ever done something really unbelievable, only to have no one around to see it?

Nope. I never do anything unbelievable.

 15. If you were famous would you want a statue or a building names after you?

Absolutely not. Pigeons shit on statues and why would you want a building named after you. In fifty years people will have no idea who you were anyway.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Today's Spray: You are what you think

I saw the following quote on Facebook today: "We can choose to perceive things differently. We can choose to focus on what's wrong in our life, or we can focus on what's right." (Marianne Williamson).

I'm choosing  to look at what is right. And good. And decent.

Another weeks goes by and another week I find myself being absolutely disgusted by our Federal Government. I would

Once again I'm starting to think about how it is we've come to such a dire place with our Federal Politicians. As time goes on, they're trying to shut down any kind of debate. A new law has been brought in starting Wednesday. If you're a teacher, doctor or other worker in an offshore detention centre and you report abuse, you may be prosecuted and jailed for up to two years.

Australia's current government's reaction to asylum seekers since the Abbott regime came into place in September 2013 - and yes, it is a regime, has been nothing short of woeful. I don't want to see people dying at sea, nor do I think people should come here without being properly vetted, however things such as paying crews to tow back asylum seekers back to Indonesia, keeping children in offshore detention centres and having little duty of care for those in detention is just not on. Please tell me, just when is it okay to allow a baby to exist in a shabby tent on an island with little sanitation and even less safety. Seriously.

Anyway, from 1 July, if you find yourself on one of these islands tending to the poor souls who've come to our shores seeking asylum by sea and you report abuse - whether it be the sexual assault of children, or the systematic breakdown of the mental health of these "prisoners", you are breaking the law and you may be imprisoned.

The fact that the current "opposition" voted for these rules is even more alarming. We have a lack of decent opposition. The Opposition Leader is as weak, a union muppet. There are some good people in the Labor Party, but I've rued the day that Anthony Albanese or Tania Plibercek didn't take the reigns. Their stance on asylum seekers was the reason I handed out how to vote cards from the Greens last election.

Turning the other, how you anybody feel if their child, or a family member or friend was being abused or mistreated. On Australian soil, it's a crime not to report it. As doctors and teachers and other aid workers, if you were to find such incidents, you're legally liable if you don't report these things.

This new law is FUCKED.

It's like the ridiculous metadata laws that they've brought in.

Here's our Attorney General explaining why the government should keep the metadata.

This is the same guy who's now dictating where all of our Arts funding is going. Great. (Has anybody noticed that George Brandis is an anagram for Raging Bedsore?)

Of course, this week, there was a great kerfuffle about the Australian Broadcasting Commission, who, oh heavens, had somebody who was once tried, and acquitted on terrorism charges have the gall to say that the current government's views and actions were driving young men to join terror groups overseas (and that joining these groups was a stupid idea). After the program, the government was up in arms. "Heads should roll!" was the cry of the Prime Minister.

This "government" are trying to silence any debate or dissent. There is no discussion or proper debate - that's why this dreadful law came into place. There is no transparency or checks and balances. It's all "Oh, look over there, there's something that's going to kill you."

Making it even harder, the Speaker of the House has ejected over 400 opposition members from parliament in the last 18 months. She's only ejected five members of the government, even though their behaviour has been rather rancid. I don't think it's just me, but I find this outrageously biased.

This fear mongering is detracting from so much important stuff. The fact that the economy is going to shit under this mob. That large corporates pay next to no tax. That our rights are slowly being eroded. That we are being "governed" by a group that appear to want to take away our egalitarian and secular society. (And yes, get on with legislating same sex marriage. If Churches don't want to marry same sex couples so be it. They don't pay taxes, so why should they have the right to abide by a new law?)

I'm just hoping that the general population start seeing what the Tony Abbotts an George Brandises and Joe Hockeys and Eric Abetzs (who thinks that gay marriage will lead to polygamy and has penned a letter the to Tasmanian Parliament to say as much) and the Cory Bernardi's(who believes that gay marriage will encourage bestiality)... the list goes on.

You are what you think. I believe in goodness and kindness and equality. I refuse to accept that this government is good enough. I refuse to think that we can go on like this reneging our international rights. I refuse to accept that this government speaks for me in any way.

I want a government that has some vision and leadership.

And until this changes, I will continue to speak out. I choose to see what is right. And speak out about what is right. I do not subscribe to this regime of fear. And that is what it is.

I just wish Adam Hills would get on his soapbox over here. It seems Britain is doing some of the idiotic things Australia is doing - just it affects more people.

And on a last thought - why I feel like this?

It's time to wake up, Australia.